Tag Archives: US Constitution

When is it the ‘right time,’ Mr. Speaker?

U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan is showing his gutlessness yet again.

He said it is “too early” to discuss gun violence in the wake of the latest gun-related tragedy.

A gunman killed 17 people in Parkland, Fla. on Valentine’s Day. Seventeen lives were snuffed out by a lunatic with an AR-15 assault rifle. He bought the gun legally, according to authorities. OK. Let’s start there.

How does someone who exhibited some warning signs of violence purchase an assault weapon legally? Are there any legislative remedies available to prohibit someone from buying a rifle that is designed to inflict maximum casualties in a minimum amount of time?

The speaker says it’s too early to talk about that. What utter crap!

It’s not too early. It’s never too early. Our nation is grieving yet again after a massacre at a public school. I am sickened in the extreme at this news. What’s more, I also am sickened at the lack of our will among our political leadership to take this matter on in a forthright manner.

The president spoke to us this week about love and caring for the victims. He said the students who witnessed the carnage are not alone and “never will be.” I appreciate Donald Trump’s statements about the need to protect our students and to tackle the ravages of mental illness. He’s right.

However, the president hasn’t yet broached the subject of gun violence. He hasn’t offered any ideas on how we might legislate some solution, or begin to craft a path toward some remedy that doesn’t violate the constitutional guarantee of gun ownership.

Let’s talk about this, shall we? It’s not too early. If not now, then when is the right time?

Where is that solution to this violence?

I hate repeating myself. It frustrates me terribly when I find myself saying the same things over and over … much as I did to my sons when they were growing up.

Not to mention how frustrated they must have been. You know?

Thus, I am aghast at having to say once again: How in the world do Congress and the president find a solution to curb gun violence that doesn’t weaken one of our cherished constitutional amendments. I am referring to the Second Amendment, the one that guarantees gun ownership in this country.

The debate is being joined once again in the wake — once again! — of horrific tragedy. Seventeen people died Wednesday in a horrifying massacre at a Parkland, Fla., high school. A former student is in custody.

He entered the school with an AR-15 assault rifle, a weapon he purchased legally.

I am not smart enough to come up with a legislative solution to this problem. I merely sit out here in Flyover Country, writing a blog and offering commentary on this and/or that issue of the day.

The issue of this day happens to deal with guns and the violence that comes from those who possess weapons with the sole aim of killing as many beings as humanely possible.

A shooter walked into the high school and killed a lot of people quickly. Does the Second Amendment guarantee a lunatic the right to purchase a weapon that the authors of that amendment never envisioned in the late 18th century?

Gun-rights groups say, “Yes, it does!” They add, “Not only that, don’t even think about watering it down.” Then they bully our elected representatives into supporting their view. Members of Congress back off. They flinch. They quiver. They don’t act.

They’re smart enough to know how to craft legislation that perhaps can make it just a bit tougher to purchase an assault weapon.

Yes, I know what you might ask: Would any law have prevented the slaughter in Parkland? My answer? I have no earthly idea.

I do believe that we cannot let our lack of assurance about the effectiveness of these laws prevent our elected lawmakers from seeking solutions.

Moreover, I also believe that the Second Amendment is written broadly enough to allow for some controls on the weapons we allow and on those who can purchase them. I know we have restrictions already on who can purchase these weapons. I also know those restrictions aren’t limiting the tragedy that keeps recurring.

Can’t we do better? I believe we can.

I also believe we must.

We may never solve this national crisis

One of my oldest and dearest friends has just posted a message on social media that I want to share in this blog.

Tim was my best man in 1971 and has forged a successful career in law. I admire him more than I’ve ever told him, until now.

Here is what he wrote:

In everything I do in my personal life, my professional life, my Rotary life, I am a “glass half-full” guy. I am an optimist. I believe that things can and, with determination, WILL get better. I believe in the inherent good in people in all walks of life. All of this is true in every area of my life but one: To those who plead, through eyes filled with horror and tears, that gun violence must stop, I say: It will never happen. This country, with orders of magnitude more guns and gun deaths than any other country in the world, is too far gone. The gun lobby is too strong. The pathetic “2nd Amendment” excuse is too widely embedded. Our legislators are too deep in the pockets of those who profit from death. Over and over and over again I hear “We must take action to stop this!” and that is the news for a week, maybe two, and then we are right back in the murderous gunsights, losing more people to gun violence each year than in the worst year of traffic deaths. And the hand-wringing and tears is as far as this will ever get. I am so ashamed of what went wrong in our country, and utterly without hope that it will ever, ever, ever get better.

The massacre today in Parkland, Fla. has scarred us all. Americans all across the land condemn gun violence. They call for something to be done legislatively to end it. Nothing happens.

I fear that my dear friend has encapsulated what many of us have feared all along. There is nothing we can do now to prevent this kind of slaughter from recurring … again and again.

It is to our everlasting shame.

How might POTUS exit?

Forgive me for getting ahead of myself, but my mind sometimes wanders far a good bit into the future at times.

My mind is teasing me at the moment with this question: How is Donald John Trump going to exit the presidency of the United States?

I keep wondering if he is capable of going out with grace, keeping the tradition long established by a “peaceful” and “seamless” transition of power from one president to the next one.

I won’t predict when that transition will occur. I guess it’s OK to mention five options that await the president:

  • He could get re-elected in 2020 and serve the remainder of his presidency until he must exit, according to the U.S. Constitution.
  • He could be defeated for re-election in 2020.
  • He might decide against seeking a second term.
  • He could be impeached by the House of Representatives and then convicted in the Senate after Democrats re-take control of both congressional chambers in the 2018 mid-term election.
  • He could quit before being impeached.

I won’t predict which of those events will occur. In a strange way, though, it seems quite likely to my own mind that no matter how this man exits the presidency, he isn’t going to go away quietly.

Donald Trump just ain’t wired to behave the way those who occupy this exalted office usually do.

Let’s all prepare for continued turbulence.

Weaken libel laws? No can do, Mr. President

Donald John Trump wants to make it easier to sue publications for libel. The president vowed to change laws he called a “sham” and a “disgrace.”

Really, Mr. President?

He made the vow at the start of a Cabinet meeting in the White House.

Where can I start? I’ll give it a shot.

Trump said journalists cannot write stories that are knowingly false and then smile while they count their money as it pours into their bank account.

True enough, Mr. President. Except that current libel laws ensure that those who publish “knowingly false” stories are punished.

As for whether the federal government can rewrite the law, I need to remind Donald Trump that the U.S. Constitution declares in the First Amendment that there should be a “free press” that is allowed to do its job without government interference.

The founders wanted to ensure that a free press could function without fear of intimidation and, thus, established a high bar for public officials to clear if they decide to sue for libel.

The object of Trump’s tirade clearly is the publication of “Fire and Fury,” the highly controversial book written by journalist Michael Wolff, who reports some mighty scathing remarks from former and current White House staffers who had some disparaging things to say about Donald Trump. The president calls it all fiction; Wolff, of course, stands by his reporting in the book.

National Public Radio reports: And this is hardly the first time Trump has railed against libel laws, which as a matter of practice are made by the states and backed by a U.S. Supreme Court precedent that sets a high bar for public figures wanting to prove libel.

So, what is left for Trump to do? He can nominate Supreme Court justices who are willing to water down the First Amendment. However, he then sets up a proverbial “litmus test” for potential appointees.

Would he dare ask them prior to selecting them whether they would pledge a sort of loyalty to the president by agreeing beforehand to rule favorably on a libel case that comes before the nation’s highest court?

Now that I think about it, I believe he would … to his shame!

Trump’s war on the media keeps getting hotter.

Frightening … and dangerous.

25th Amendment? Let’s not go there

The U.S. Constitution’s 25th Amendment allows for the removal of a president if he is deemed unfit for the office.

The bar is set extraordinarily high.

The amendment is now on the lips of Washington, D.C. officials who seem to think Donald J. Trump has gone around the bend.

Let’s hold on here!

I’ve already stated my concern over what I call “armchair diagnoses.” There’s been a lot of that going on these days as the president keeps firing off those tweets boasting about the size of his nuclear button and threatening North Korea with annihilation.

However, no psychiatrist has examined the president — at least that I am aware of — and offered a firm medical diagnosis.

Which begs a question. What would a president have to do to be tossed aside?

I guess a president would have to slap a kid who’s touring the White House. Perhaps he would have to drool all over himself. Maybe he would have to berate a senior White House adviser publicly, using what my dear old Dad used to call “the functional four-letter word.”

Donald Trump hasn’t done anything like that.

There well might be a political reason to remove the president. That is where impeachment comes into play.

The 25th Amendment, though, remains the remotest of possibilities — even for a president who acts as squirrely as this one.

POTUS declares war on media

It’s been on-going ever since Donald John Trump declared his presidential candidacy in June 2015.

He’s been at war with the media that seek to report the news relevant to his campaign and now, his presidency.

As Steve Schmidt, a longtime Republican Party political activist, has noted: Trump now has all but declared Fox News to be the state’s official news medium. Why is that? Because Trump just relishes the network’s obvious bias in his favor.

Other media outlets? They’re all the “enemy of the American people.” The president, with his alarming and frightening petulance toward the rest of the media, has broken with a couple centuries’ worth of tradition involving presidential relationships with a free press.

Consider, too, the words of a longtime public servant who now works as a “contributor” to CNN. Retired Air Force Gen. Michael Hayden — the former head of the National Security Agency and the Central Intelligence Agency — laid it on the line.

Hayden fires back at Trump

Hayden wrote this on Twitter: “Until now it was not possible for me to conceive of an American President capable of such an outrageous assault on truth, a free press or the first amendment.”

Think not just of what Gen. Hayden said, but also consider that this man would say it. Michael Hayden served with distinction and honor under presidential administrations of both major political parties.

Hayden was responding to this tweet from Trump: “Fox News is MUCH more important in the United States than CNN, but outside of the U.S., CNN International is still a major source of (Fake) news, and they represent our Nation to the WORLD very poorly.”

I get that Trump gored Hayden’s proverbial ox with that ridiculous message. However, I believe Hayden’s description of Trump’s view of the media is correct. He is conducting an “outrageous assault on truth, a free press” and, yes, on the First Amendment.

This individual, the president of the United States, is a disgrace to the high office he occupies.

Giving thanks on this special day … and always

My family members know I love all of them beyond measure. They know I am grateful for the love they give me in return.

I am grateful and thankful for the friends I have acquired over many decades of living. I believe they know of — and appreciate — my love for them, too.

Now the rest of you know what they know and understand the gratitude I am expressing to them today and every day.

I feel moved to express my thankfulness and gratitude for my country. And for the system of government under which we Americans live.

You see, I am grateful in the extreme that my government allows me to write this blog. I put these musings out there multiple times each day. I use it to vent my frustration with the government, and with many of the people who operate the government. These people are responsible for making the laws under which we live and for administering them in accordance with the U.S. Constitution.

The framers of the Constitution established the Bill of Rights, which are contained in the first 10 amendments to that document. The First Amendment lays out freedom to worship, freedom of the press and freedom to seek redress of grievances. This blog, thus, is protected by at least two of those First Amendment clauses.

My retirement status has given me the freedom to speak only for myself. I do not shy away from that. I’ll keep pounding away for as long as I am able to maintain a cogent thought in my noggin and string sentences together that make a semblance of sense.

Some people in power who happen to read what I write won’t like what they read. That’s too bad — for them!

For me? I will just keep giving thanks for the opportunity to speak my mind.

Does gun control doom 2nd Amendment? Um, no!

I believe we can start debating gun legislation now in the wake of the Sutherland Springs, Texas massacre. Correct?

It has commenced and there now appears to be some indication of public support for stricter gun laws.

A Gallup Poll reveals that 51 percent of Americans now favor increased regulation on guns purchases. Wow, man! Imagine that. Most Americans, according to Gallup, think the nation needs to legislate some remedy to keep guns out of the hands of madmen, such as the guy who opened fire at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs.

Most want gun control

I am acutely aware that this is a complicated problem that requires a finely nuanced legislative solution. I am a supporter of the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution; I also own firearms. I need no lecture on how the Second Amendment has been interpreted by the courts.

The Sutherland Springs tragedy also brings to mind a monumental failure by the U.S. Air Force to report the gunman’s criminal history to the FBI, which could have prevented him from getting the weapon he used to slaughter those people in the church sanctuary.

The complications, of course, become evident when bad actors acquire guns from family members, or friends, or some fly-by-night gun seller looking to make a few bucks. I do not know how you prevent those crackpots from obtaining guns.

Is there a legislative solution that remains faithful to the Second Amendment? I believe one can be found. Somewhere. By someone. Somehow.

If the Gallup Poll is accurate — and I tend to believe it is — then our elected representatives have been given a chance to do what they’ve been unwilling to do in the wake of other horrific tragedies.

Of course, it would be a no-brainer were it not for the existence of that political powerhouse called the National Rifle Association.

Oh, boy … let’s watch this clerk’s race

Kim Davis is going to seek re-election as county clerk in Rowan County, Ky.

Big deal, you say? Sure it is. Here’s why.

Rowan is the county clerk who made a big-time name for herself after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2015 to legalize gay marriage in all 50 of our states. It declared that the 14th Amendment’s “equal protection clause” meant that gay couples are entitled to be married because they are entitled to equal protection under the law.

Davis didn’t agree with that. She said that her religious beliefs wouldn’t allow her to sign off on marriage certificates involving gay couples. The court told her to do her job; she refused and then spent a few days in the slammer on a contempt of court charge. The issue was resolved when the courts ruled Davis didn’t have to sign the certificates, but could allow her deputies to do so.

During all that tumult, Davis changed her party affiliation from Democrat to Republican. So now she wants to be re-elected to a second term.

I normally wouldn’t give a royal rat’s rear end about Kim Davis, except that I spent a good bit of time on this blog commenting on how she violated the oath of office she took.

It’s that oath — and her violation of it — that make her unfit for re-election.

This campaign under normal circumstances wouldn’t command any attention outside of Rowan County. It will, because Davis made such a spectacle of herself by protesting the high court’s decision on gay marriage.

Davis took an oath office to defend and protect the U.S. Constitution and to obey the law of the land. She failed to do her job by injecting religion into a secular political office. The oath she took doesn’t allow her to use her faith as a dodge.

That is how her political opponent ought to frame his or her campaign against her.

So, with that Kim Davis is going to run for re-election. I should resist the urge to follow how this will play out.

But I won’t.