Massacre must mobilize us

As a general rule I do not categorize myself as a “single-issue voter” motivated to cast my ballot on just one critical issue of the moment.

The massacre that erupted in Uvalde, Texas, however, is likely to turn me into someone I do not generally profess to be. Nineteen children and two educators are dead today in the wake of the state’s worst-ever school massacre and the second-deadliest such tragedy in the nation’s history.

My aim now — along with my bride — is to ensure that every candidate for statewide office on the ballot this year, along with local congressional, legislative and county candidates seeking my vote answer this question the correct way: Are you willing to support the enactment of laws — either at the state or federal level — that seek to prevent future tragedies such as what has occurred in Uvalde?

If they hem and haw their way around an answer and follow the preposterous lead of the likes of Sen. Ted Cruz, then they will not have my vote. Cruz decided immediately Tuesday after the Uvalde slaughter to blame the media and Democrats for “politicizing” the issue of gun violence.

Politicize? Is this nimrod serious?

We happen to require a political solution to this crisis and make no mistake, we have entered a crisis with this spate of gun violence.

I will reject with all due vigor any notion that we cannot find a legislative solution. I will reject as well the notion that we cannot find common ground among politicians to seek solutions that do not violate our Constitution’s guarantee of the right of Americans to “keep and bear arms.”

Any politician who cannot bring himself or herself to seek those solutions needs to be voted out of office and banished from the public arena.

We have had enough.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Cancel meeting, NRA!

If the men and women who run the National Rifle Association had anything resembling a beating heart, they would cancel their planned annual convention, set to convene in Houston.

Why cancel? Oh, because of the massacre that occurred today Uvalde’s Robb Elementary School in which 19 children and two educators were slaughtered.

The NRA keeps yammering against any form of additional laws to prevent this recurring madness. The pro-gun crowd will gather in Houston and well might proclaim to the world that we have enough laws on the books, even in the wake of the latest violent spasm.

Disgraceful.

The NRA should cancel its meeting.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

‘What are we doing?’

Chris Murphy is able to speak with a rare form of credibility on the tragedy that has struck once again in the United States.

Murphy is a Connecticut Democrat who represents a state in the U.S. Senate that has felt the pain we are feeling tonight in the wake of the Uvalde, Texas, school massacre.

“Just days after a shooter walked into a grocery store to gun down African-American patrons, we have another Sandy Hook on our hands,” Murphy said. “Our kids are living in fear every single time they set foot in the classroom because they think they’re going to be next. What are we doing?”

Murphy stood on the Senate floor today and pleaded with his colleagues to do something to stem the violence that erupted in South Texas. More than a dozen children and a teacher are dead along with the lunatic who opened fire at Robb Elementary School.

‘What are we doing?’: Sen. Chris Murphy gives emotional speech on Texas elementary school shooting (msn.com)

A decade ago, another madman opened fire at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., killing 20 first- and second-graders along with six educators before killing himself. President Obama called it the darkest day of his two terms in office.

What did we do then? Nothing!

What are we doing now? Sen. Murphy is asking the most relevant question possible in this time of national grief.

I am one American who will not accept any excuse that our Congress cannot enact laws that can do something to make it more difficult to commit these types of crimes. I will not listen to those who continue to proclaim that the Constitution prohibits any legislative remedy.

They are wrong and they should be ashamed.

Murphy continued: “This only happens in this country and nowhere else. Nowhere else do little kids go to school, thinking that they might be shot that day. Nowhere else do parents have to talk to their kids, as I have had to do about why they got locked into a bathroom and told to be quiet for five minutes just in case a bad man entered that building. Nowhere else does that happen except here in the United States of America, and it is a choice. It is our choice to let it continue.”

This madness cannot  continue.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

No! Not again!

Uvalde, Texas, has just joined an infamous and shockingly growing list of communities ravaged and savaged by senseless and horrific gun violence.

Fourteen students died today along with a teacher in the latest mass shooting to send us all into grief-stricken agony.

A high school student at Uvalde High School, apparently the suspect, also is dead.

14 students, 1 teacher dead after shooting at elementary school: Governor (msn.com)

Oh, my. I am going to need some time to process this one.

I’ll just leave you with an expression of horror and mounting fear for children as well as those who are assigned to protect them all across this land.

When does it end? When?

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Oh, the irony of racism

Don’t you just marvel at the irony that presents itself at times as we seek to understand our nation’s history?

This particular message showed up on my Facebook feed. It illustrates what happened to a girl named Ruby Bridges, an African American student who sought to enroll in a Louisiana school many decades ago.

She was pelted with rocks, insults and epithets from those who said she didn’t belong in the same classroom with white kids.

Now we have a movement in this country that seeks to keep that historical fact from being taught to today’s youngsters. They fear it would breed “hatred” of their country. Well … no, it wouldn’t. It would seek to connect all the facets of our past and link them to our present day.

What is so wrong with that? Someone will have to explain to me why — as the text notes in the photo — why Grandma and Grandpa want to prevent their grandkids from learning all aspects of this great nation’s history.

Every single great civilization has its blemishes, its dark chapters. We need to pass them on to our children to help them understand fully the path we have taken.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

‘Speedy and public trial’?

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial …

— Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution

A part of me wants to laugh out loud at that statement from our nation’s governing document. You see, it doesn’t require a speedy and public trial. It merely grants people accused of crimes the “the right” to one.

Unless, of course, “speedy and public” is a code for conviction in the eyes of the accused and his or her legal defense team.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has been awaiting a speedy and public trial for seven years. Yep, seven years ago, the newly elected AG became the newly indicted AG when a Collin County grand jury charged him with securities fraud.

The AG is running for re-election to a third term in office. His Republican runoff opponent, Land Commissioner George P. Bush has been trying to make a dent in the AG’s armor by reminding Texas Republicans that they might have a crook working as the state’s top lawyer.

I am afraid George P’s message will go unheeded and that Paxton will be renominated by the party to run for re-election this fall.

This isn’t right. The case has bounced around from court to court. Paxton and his team have employed every legal trick at their disposal to hem and haw their way out of standing trial.

I happen to have faith in our judicial system, even when it stumbles and fumbles along, as it has in this case. I merely want to the case to be adjudicated.

Yes, my faith in the court system has faced serious challenges over many years. O.J. Simpson’s acquittal on a murder charge in 1995 is the most glaring example. The nation watched the sh** show trial drag on for months on end, only to watch in disbelief as the jury returned a not-guilty verdict after four hours of deliberation.

I disagreed with the verdict, but I accepted it. I also understood how the jury could reach the decision it did in so little time, given the defense put on by Simpson’s legal team led by the late Johnnie Cochrane. He planted doubt early on in the minds of the jurors.

But that’s the way it goes in this country.

Paxton should have gone to trial long ago. My own bias tells me he should already be locked up in the slammer. I would accept an acquittal just as I did when O.J. was allowed to walk free and spend the rest of his life “looking for those” who killed his ex-wife and her boyfriend.

I am sure Ken Paxton would embrace publicly the Sixth Amendment’s promise of a speedy and public trial. Except that it wouldn’t serve his political purposes.

Hey, the system ain’t perfect!

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

First Amendment violation? Nope!

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof ….

First Amendment, U.S. Constitution

Of course, the First Amendment says a lot more, but this is the first clause in the first attempt to improve the nation’s governing document.

I want to bring this up because of something I posted earlier about whether we can tax religious organizations if they seek to coerce or bully politicians into enacting certain public policy.

I believe religious organizations that endorse candidates for public office or — in the case of the San Francisco Catholic archdiocese — deny communion to officials over their abortion stance make them fair game for taxation.

Public policy = taxation | High Plains Blogger

I’ve seen some chatter out there that such a taxing policy would violate the “separation between church and state” spelled out in the First Amendment. I shall disagree with all due respect.

The religious exemption is quite specific, as I read the Constitution. It declares only that Congress must avoid enacting laws that establish a religion. The clause makes no mention of tax policy. It says only that the government cannot force people to believe a certain or faith or prohibit them from the freedom to worship — or not worship — as they please.

It appears to my reading that the Constitution grants considerable leeway to tax religious organizations if their leaders venture into the political realm.

The late Rev. Jerry Falwell entered the arena in the 1980s and 1990s with his constant attacks on Bill and Hillary Clinton; so did the Rev. Franklin Graham with his endorsement of political candidates; Catholic clergy have sought to deny politicians communion over abortion policy for decades; churches with predominant African American congregations have been staging political rallies for many years.

All of them are exempted from paying taxes.

To ascribe some sort of constitutional prohibition from taxing these entities is to expand what the First Amendment declares beyond anything I recognize.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Public policy = taxation

Here’s a thought I want to share: If religious organizations are going to bully public officials into following certain policy positions, then they need to be taxed liked any other business.

The San Francisco Catholic Archdiocese has declared its intention to deny House Speaker Nancy Pelosi — a devout Catholic — communion because of her pro-choice stance on abortion.

Hold on!

Pelosi’s position on abortion is well-known and has been reported on since before she became a member of Congress. The SF archdiocese, though, has sniffed out an opportunity to make some extra hay over the issue because of that draft Supreme Court opinion that suggests the court is set to overturn the Roe v. Wade abortion decision.

Speaker Pelosi shouldn’t be denied a sacred religious sacrament because of a public policy dispute she might have with the leaders of the church of which she has been a lifelong member.

I should point out, too, that members of Congress, as do virtually members of the federal government, take oaths of loyalty to the Constitution, not to the Bible or any other holy book. The last time I checked, which wasn’t long ago, I determined for the umpteenth time that the Constitution is a secular document.

The Church is treading on a slippery and dangerous slope by denying the speaker the opportunity to partake in holy communion.

But if the Church is allowed to get away with this kind of bullying, then there needs to be a serious debate and a decision on requiring religious organizations to share in the tax burden that falls on the rest of us.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Send in The Donald!

Did I just hear that the Kremlin published a list of public officials Russia has banned from entry? And do I also understand correctly that Donald J. Trump is not among the names on the list of individuals who would be denied entry into Russia?

Interesting, yes? Of course it is!

With that, let’s all hope The Donald decides to visit Russia. That he decides to arrange for a meeting with his pal Vladimir Putin. That TV cameras take pictures of the two of ’em smiling, laughing and getting along so famously.

What a marvelous PR “opportunity” that would present. Don’t you agree? Please, Donald. Go to Russia!

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Texas GOP set to nominate seriously damaged AG

If we are to believe the public opinion polls — which I tend to do — then Texas Republican voters are going to nominate for a third term a state attorney general who is under criminal indictment and who is the subject of an FBI investigation into reports of criminal activity.

AG Ken Paxton is (allegedly) as crooked as a dog’s hind leg. Yet he is poised to survive an intraparty challenge from Land Commissioner George P. Bush.

Eeek!

I do not get it. Really. I just cannot fathom how this clown can be nominated for a third term as attorney general while facing a trial that could result in a lengthy prison term is he’s convicted.

A Collin County grand jury indicted Paxton in 2015 on securities fraud charges. His trial has been postponed and kicked around, from Collin County, to Harris County and now back to Collin County.

It’s been seven years since the indictment came down.

Then came the resignation of seven top AG’s office lawyers. The whistleblowers allege that Paxton has been playing favorites and have accused him of accepting a bribe. In comes the FBI.

Can’t Texas Republicans do better than that?

I guess not! Shame on them.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

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