Who is this Texas GOP chairman?

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Who is Allen West?

I will answer the easy part. He is the current head of the Texas Republican Party. He’s also a one-term former congressman … from Florida! He moved to Texas a year or two ago I reckon to restart his political career.

He served in the U.S. Army, attaining the rank of lieutenant colonel. He was then discharged — I believe it was honorably — but only after facing a charge of “conduct unbecoming” an officer. He was involved in an incident involving an Iraqi prisoner who was treated harshly by U.S. service personnel.

West is a firebrand. While serving in the U.S. House, he accused his Democratic colleagues — all of them! — of being agents for communists around the world. Nice, eh? Hardly. It smacked to my ears of the kind of rhetorical crap spouted by the late, and infamous Sen. Joe McCarthy, the noted commie-hunter who became disgraced because of his witch hunting tactics.

West’s latest rhetorical barrage came at the expense of a young Texas legislator from Beaumont, Dade Phelan, who wants to become the next speaker of the Texas House of Representatives. It turns out that Phelan has been courting Democrats as well as his fellow Republicans, which according to West is a bridge too far. A GOP House speaker shouldn’t have to court the favor of Democrats, West said in criticizing Phelan.

Wait a second, dude. Texas has a long history of House speakers who have worked well across the aisle. Joe Straus, a San Antonio Republican, was one; then we had Pete Laney, a Hale Center Democrat, who worked well with Republicans.

Indeed, governors of both parties have been known to reach across the aisle to seek favors from the other side.

So, what is this intruder trying to do?

I had thought that Texas had enough dedicated Republican political operatives of lengthy Lone Star State standing to lead the party. Instead, it has turned to this guy who knows practically nothing of this state’s unique political climate.


Democracy: big winner of 2020 election

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Let’s set aside — if we can — the idiotic challenges that Donald Trump continues to mount against our electoral system.

I want to declare that the big winner of the 2020 election was none other than democracy itself. I continue to watch the straggler votes being counted and am utterly amazed at the huge numbers being rung up by the vote counters.

Nationally, more than 157 million ballots were cast. President-elect Joe Biden captured 51.2 percent of them; Donald Trump collected 46.9 percent. Biden’s vote total is nearly 81 million ballots; Trump has collected more than 74 million. Trump can claim some sort of “moral” victory (although “moral” is a word I usually do not associate with Trump) in knowing he has the second-greatest vote total in U.S. history.

Why are these numbers so staggering? Because they came while the nation is suffering through a massive pandemic that has killed more than 270,000 Americans.

Politicians urged us to vote. The call came mostly from Democrats who wanted to ensure that Americans used their constitutional right. They encouraged us to vote early if possible. My wife and I voted on the first day of early voting in Texas. We were glad to do so.

Democracy came out the big winner. Our democratic process has survived. I am confident it will survive this farcical attempt by Trump to overturn the clear and decisive result that we all delivered on Election Day. It might take some time for democracy to recover from the wounds that Trump has inflicted by sowing all this doubt into the integrity of our democratic system … but it will. Of that I am supremely confident.

President Ford told us on the day he took office that “our Constitution works.” It has shown us yet again — in the midst of a deadly pandemic — that it remains resilient, sturdy and strong.

GOP angry at OMB pick

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

I feel the need to explain in some detail my concern about President-elect Biden’s decision to nominate Neera Tanden as the next director of the Office of Management and Budget.

Tanden’s selection has drawn fire from Republican U.S. senators. Why? Because she has said mean things about them on Twitter and other media outlets.

Their concern upsets my tummy. It’s not because Tanden shouldn’t have said those things about the Republican congressional caucus. I happen to agree with her. She runs a liberal think tank. Tanden is called upon often by media outlets to comment on this and/or that. She did so frequently during Donald Trump’s impeachment inquiry.

What does trouble me is that President-elect Biden pledged an effort to unify the nation after four years of Trump and after a nasty and epithet- and threat-filled presidential campaign.

Neera Tanden is precisely the kind of nominee I would hope the president-elect would avoid. He didn’t do that. He has tapped a fierce partisan to take on what should be a job left to impartial, critical fiscal analysis.

To be clear, Donald Trump also selected a fierce partisan to run OMB when he selected former South Carolina U.S. Rep. Mick Mulvaney, who then became “acting” White House chief of staff for most of the second half of Trump’s term as president.

President-elect Biden, though, pledged a different tone were he elected to the office. I am afraid Neera Tanden doesn’t meet that standard.

Do I care that she has spoken critically of the GOP? Not in the least. I do care that Joe Biden’s effort to calm the rough seas might be placed in jeopardy.

Immigration reform on tap

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

I want to look ahead to the new year, as I cannot wait for this one to disappear in the distance.

President-elect Biden got a question the other night from NBC News anchor Lester Holt: What do you want to accomplish in the first 100 days of your administration?

The new president’s answer? Immigration reform.

Biden said he intends to submit to Congress a detailed immigration reform package that he said must be done soon. It is time, he said, to improve an immigration system that has produced some horrific results, such as the separation of children from their parents when they are caught entering the United States illegally.

The president-elect already has declared his intention on Day One to sign an executive order that rescinds an earlier order that Donald Trump issued regarding the “dreamers” who live in this country. These are the individuals who came here illegally as children when their parents sneaked across the border.

Biden’s order would in effect restore an even earlier executive order that President Obama signed to protect those brought here under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. DACA recipients were protected from immediate deportation. Trump wiped that order off the books and then threatened to round up hundreds of thousands of DACA recipients and send them back to their birth country. He didn’t care that DACA recipients have no memory of their country of origin; they have become de facto Americans.

Whatever immigration package the president-elect presents to Congress should contain a fast-track provision for DACA recipients to (a) seek U.S. citizenship or (b) seek some form of legal resident status.

Donald Trump has been listening to dark advice given him by senior (anti-)immigrant adviser Stephen Miller, a young man who appears to have little tolerance for any immigrants of any kind. Being the grandson of immigrants, Miller’s point of view offends me greatly, as does the attitude that Trump adopted during his term in office.

President Bush wanted to reform immigration policy. As did President Obama. The reform effort stalled during the Trump era.

I welcome President Biden’s effort to deliver on his 100-day vow.

Ex-DHS official gets serious threat

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Christopher Krebs has ample reason to examine whether he should take legal action against a member of Donald Trump’s legal team who exhibited incredibly crass tendencies in threatening Krebs’s well-being.

Trump fired Krebs from his Homeland Security post for declaring that the presidential election was the most secure in history; Krebs’s statement runs counter to the phony narrative Trump is promoting that the election that declared Joe Biden the winner is “rigged” and “fraudulent.” Trump hired Krebs to lead DHS election security network; he did his job and then declared what most of us knew already, that the election was safe and secure.

Then we hear from Joseph DeGenova, a former federal prosecutor who now works for Trump’s campaign. DeGenova said Krebs should be “drawn and quartered and shot.” Where I come from, that sounds like a direct threat to someone’s well-being.

Equally horrifying is that Trump hasn’t condemned DeGenova’s hateful message.

Krebs now is keeping all his legal options open. He also would be wise to sleep with one eye open at night. Does anyone at this point really think that some crazed Trumpkin isn’t capable of taking DeGenova’s idiocy seriously?

This is a disgraceful epilogue to a free and fair election.

Barr does the right thing … finally!

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

U.S. Attorney General William Barr, who’s been accused of acting more like Donald J. Trump’s personal attorney than a defender of the U.S. Constitution, has issued a statement that, to be candid, surprised me.

He said that the Justice Department has found no evidence of widespread voter fraud that could have any impact on the outcome of the presidential election.

Holy crap, man! Haven’t many of us out here been saying that? Sure we have!

Whatever the case, the AG has made a declaration that is music to me. It likely sounds like fingernails on the blackboard to one Donald Trump, to which I say: that’s just too damn bad!

The POTUS vows to continue his idiotic hunt for results that will turn around an election that President-elect Biden won handily. He is going to bleed funds from his campaign coffers to search for some court somewhere in the U.S. of A. that will declare there to be fraud where none exists.

For that matter, were I a Trump campaign contributor, I would be mighty pi**ed off that Trump is using this money for a foolish quest to prove wrongdoing where none exists.

Barr’s statement now guarantees he’ll get a nasty Twitter blast from Donald Trump. Mr. Attorney General, you should wear it proudly.

Et, tu … National Review?

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

William F. Buckley, the late, great iconic conservative thinker, surely would be proud of the publication he founded.

It has called on Donald Trump, the nation’s lame-duck president, to cease his “petulant refusal” to accept Joe Biden’s election as president. The magazine wants Trump to exit the White House quietly and leave the task of governing to the man who thumped him in the Nov. 3 presidential election.

The National Review — which Buckley founded in 1955 — published an editorial calling on Trump to throw in the towel.

“There are legitimate issues to consider after the 2020 vote about the security of mail-in ballots and the process of counting votes (some jurisdictions, bizarrely, take weeks to complete their initial count), but make no mistake: The chief driver of the post-election contention of the past several weeks is the petulant refusal of one man to accept the verdict of the American people,” the editorial said. “The Trump team (and much of the GOP) is working backwards, desperately trying to find something, anything to support the president’s aggrieved feelings, rather than objectively considering the evidence and reacting as warranted.”

There you have it. A legitimate, conservative publication founded on legitimate conservative principles has called on a phony conservative — the 45th president of the United States — to pack it in.

William Buckley would be a happy man.

Trump making Biden’s task even more difficult

(Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

I have been extolling the virtues of President-elect Biden’s mission to bring the nation together, to restore our “national soul.”

There was a time when I thought Joe Biden was up to the task, no matter its difficulty. I am now having second thoughts.

Why? Because the man he defeated on Nov. 3 is sowing some incredibly deeply planted seeds of mistrust in the democratic system that defeated him for re-election.

If Donald Trump had any sense of shame within his overfed body, he might heed the calls to dial it all back. He doesn’t. Instead, he continues to sow those seeds that are being scarfed up by the moronic base of supporters who actually  believe the lies he tells.

What’s more, we now hear from one of Trump’s lawyers saying that a man whom Trump fired should be “drawn and quartered and shot” because he declared the presidential election was the most secure in history.

The lawyer is Joseph DiGenova. The individual he wants executed is Christopher Krebs, whom Trump hired to protect the nation’s electoral system against corruption. Krebs did his job, except that his declaration flies in the face of Trump’s narrative, which is that the election is “rigged,” and that the presidency was “stolen” by millions of illegal voters.

This is a sample of the headwinds that confront President-elect Biden as he prepares to assume the nation’s highest office.

And this is an example of how the nation’s soul is in serious disrepair. I won’t say that Trump has destroyed our national soul. He clearly has inflicted grievous damage on it. He is doing so even as the clock ticks away the final weeks of his disastrous term as president.

President-elect Biden faced a difficult job even under better circumstances. I pray his pledge to unify the nation isn’t crossing the threshold of impossibility.

Trump never learned how to be ‘presidential’

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Donald Trump’s pending exit from the presidency really shouldn’t contain too many surprises to go along with the outrage many of us are experiencing.

He once vowed to be “presidential” once he took the oath of office.

It never happened. Even when he spoke to us with restraint, many of us thought: You know, he seems so stilted, so stiff, so … not himself.

I’ll be clear. I disliked intensely the “real” Donald Trump that would present itself when he would fly off on one of those rants. And yet when he would read prepared remarks, he did so with a discomfort level that I could feel in my living room watching on my TV set.

Donald Trump proved to be a bad liar and a president who, when handed opportunities to say the right thing, would do so under seeming duress. He didn’t like the role he was forced to play when he took that oath of office.

What are we getting in place of this? We’re getting a president, Joe Biden, who at some level has been practicing for the role during his entire and lengthy public service career. President-elect Biden chaired Senate committees, presiding over sometimes controversial hearings. He behaved like a distinguished gentleman most of the time.

So I don’t expect a lot of on-the-job training for the new president when he steps into the Oval Office. At least, though, we likely won’t have to endure the sight and sound of a president who never learned how to act and sound like someone elected to the most exalted office in the land.

Vaccine, yes; anti-COVID measures, also yes!

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

I feel as though I am lecturing a child who likely knows what he or she is about to hear. Here goes nonetheless.

Vaccines that could eradicate the COVID-19 virus that has killed 270,000 Americans and sickened millions more are on the horizon. Does that mean we should relax? Do we now just forget about all the warnings we’ve been hearing and hopefully heeding for the past nine or 10 months?

Not just no, but hell no!

Pfizer and Moderna, two “big pharma” firms that are developing vaccines, are seeking Food and Drug Administration fast-track approval to begin distributing the vaccines; AstraZenena, a third firm that is developing a vaccine, likely is set to make the same request of the FDA.

I am hopeful and optimistic about the vaccines. Just so you know, I intend to be vaccinated as soon as it is available to me. I also know that I — along with my wife — likely will have to wait while others who need it more urgently get vaccinated.

We have been diligent in our house to protect ourselves against the virus. We mask up when we venture outside our house.  We maintain our distance from others. We use generous amounts of hand sanitizer. We wash our hands frequently … in our own home!

I intend fully to continue doing all of that even after I receive my vaccine.

The Dallas Morning News editorialized about all of this the other day, calling on us to refuse to let our guard down. We must not relax even with vaccines on the horizon.

We all know what’s happening out there. Infection, hospitalizations and deaths are up. Too many of us are ignoring the warnings. I heard Dr. Anthony Fauci, the premier infectious disease guru in the nation if not the world say that he has no problem with people accusing him of “overreacting” to the pandemic.

Indeed, it is far better to “overreact” and stay clear of the killer virus than to do the opposite.

I, too, plan to overreact.

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