Tag Archives: Founding Fathers

Perfection: impossible to find

Those out there who seek to build the “perfect nation” in the mold, for instance, of the current Republican cult leader who’s heading for his party’s presidential nomination, need a serious lesson on what our founders intended for us.

These wise men knew from the outset that perfection was too steep a hill to climb. They wrote in the preamble to our cherished Constitution: “We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union … “

There you have it in the second clause of our nation’s government framework. They knew that perfection was out of their reach, and out of the reach of those who would follow.

Indeed, the founders — as learned as many of them were — enacted a Constitution that over time has proved to be far from perfect. The men who wrote it didn’t grant women the right to vote; that constitutional amendment didn’t come into being until 1920, for crying out loud!

They didn’t grant the rights of citizenship to Black people, who were still enslaved in 1789. Freedom from human bondage didn’t arrive until 1863 and then it took another century to enact legislation guaranteeing Black citizens the full rights of citizenship.

The issue for me is the tone of the rhetoric I hear from those on the far right, the MAGA cultists who don’t understand what the founders intended when they sought to create a “more perfect Union.” They knew from the outset what has been lost on too many Americans who march to the cadence dictated by their leader.

It is that those of us who love this country must also understand a fundamental truth about it. It isn’t perfect and we are unlikely ever to make it so.

14th Amendment stands out

It appears that of all the 27 amendments to the U.S. Constitution, the 14th Amendment has emerged as the most discussed, most cited, most argued and arguably the most important of them all.

I’ve been following a host of legal and political battles for a long time. Just lately, though, it seems that the 14th Amendment keeps surfacing from the legal mumbo-jumbo that at times accompanies these discussions.

Let’s ponder a few notions, shall we?

Section 1 makes two important distinctions. One is that anyone born in the United States is granted citizenship upon birth. A Republican presidential candidate, Ron DeSantis, wants to remove that stipulation from the law. Section 1 also says all citizens are entitled to “equal protection under the law.” This clause has come into play in decisions — to cite one example — regarding gay marriage.

Section 3 declares that anyone who participates in sedition or an insurrection shall be denied the opportunity to seek public office at any level in this country. Hmm. Does that one sound familiar? It should. If Donald J. Trump is indicted for allegedly fomenting the insurrection of 1/6 and then is convicted in a trial, he cannot serve in any public office … ever!

Section 4 declares that the nation’s good faith and credit shouldn’t be messed with, giving the lie to the notion by the MAGA morons who sought to deny efforts to increase the nation’s debt ceiling. Failure to honor our debts would have plunged us into economic catastrophe.

All of this is my way of wondering: Do the MAGA cultists know a damn thing about the Constitution, the oaths of office they take to honor and protect it or the penalties they face if they fail to honor their oath?

I must remind them that they take that oath while placing their hand on a holy book. Thus, the oath is sacred, given the religious tenets to which the politicians claim to follow.

The framers didn’t craft the perfect government framework. It’s pretty damn inclusive and those wise men managed to cram many key provisions into a single amendment to the Constitution.

Moreover, if the MAGA nitwits had half a brain, they would understand that “constitutional absolutism” means they follow the document to the letter … or else.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

They aren’t ‘patriots’

Long ago, I grew weary of the right-wing fanatics, white supremacists, MAGA adherents and others of their ilk declaring themselves to be “patriots.”

They are nothing of the sort.

A patriot would understand that this nation came into being as a result of those seeking to build a nation on the basis of civil liberties. That the United States would comprise individuals of varied backgrounds, orientations, races, ethnicities and that everyone is entitled the same liberties.

Now, it is understood that the founders’ work needed some improvements along the way. They allowed slavery to stand; they didn’t grant Black Americans the same civil liberties as the rest of the country; women had to wait until the 1920s to get the right to vote.

But the Constitution was amended to fix those — and other — shortcomings.

Here we are, well into the 21st century, and we are being treated daily to news reports of white supremacists proclaiming themselves to be patriots.

They sicken me.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Seeking relief during the season

It is tempting to unlimber my typing fingers and write something critical of someone, doing something and doing it somewhere.

But, hey. This is the Christmas season and the way I look at it, we have much for which we can be grateful. Truth be told, I am not in the mood — at least for the next day or so — to pile on to those who deserve a serious piling on.

Those of you who read this blog know of whom I refer. I won’t mention his name. Just know that he’s in a heap of trouble and I believe he will pay for the misery he has brought to this nation.

The holiday is a time to rejoice. Christians are celebrating Jesus’s birth and the promise he brought to change the world. Those who don’t necessarily cling to the religious significance of the holiday still celebrate the joy of the season.

I even have received Christmas greetings from friends in places like Israel and Thailand, from Jews and Buddhists, who bestow their good wishes on their friends. How can one harbor negative thoughts when cheerful greetings come from afar?

We are going through tumultuous times in this great nation. Some of us fear for the future of our representative democracy. They believe the forces of evil will dismantle what our nation’s founders built from scratch in the 18th century. Their fears are overstated … in my humble view.

I am going to cling tightly to my own belief that our system will withstand the onslaught and will emerge on the other side at least as strong as it is today. Maybe even stronger!

I plan to cheer mightily for the strength of our governing system.

Moreover, my wife and I plan as well to laugh and carry on as we open gifts from our family members and as we watch them enjoy the cheer we have given them in this season of joy.

Very soon I will return to what I believe is my task of keeping politicians alert to the criticism of their sometimes-foolish behavior.

Just not for the next couple of days.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Giving thanks for founders

Thanksgiving aims to fill us with gratitude for the bounty we enjoy, and I do enjoy plenty of it, as I have been blessed beyond measure with a loving family and friendships.

But I want to offer a brief expression of thanks for men who have long departed this good Earth. They are the founders of this great nation.

They created a government that would serve the nation they founded in the 18th century. It has worked well, despite its imperfections.

It is being tested today as Americans struggle over whose arguments will win the day. Do we heed those who believe in good government and in the tenets of fairness, equity and liberty or do we follow the precepts of those who purport to be patriots, but who in reality want to overturn elections and deny all Americans the same level of liberty?

I’m going to stick with the former, because that is what our founders laid out for us.

To be sure, the founders didn’t create a perfect governing document. The U.S. Constitution contained serious flaws. It failed to grant full citizenship rights to women, who didn’t even acquire the right to vote until 1920, for crying out loud! The Constitution also was silent on slavery, as it allowed human beings to possess other human beings as property, the way they owned farm implements. The nation got around to abolishing slavery in the19th century, but we had to go to war with ourselves to win freedom for everyone who lives here.

The founders did create a document that has proved pretty damn durable. It has withstood many crises over the two-plus centuries of our republic’s existence. I will continue to cling to the belief that it will weather this storm, too, just as it saw us through presidential scandals, the Civil War, presidential assassinations and assorted assaults on the beliefs that our founders held dear to their hearts.

I am going to keep the nation’s founders in my own thoughts this week as I join my family in celebrating this uniquely American holiday. Their effort at creating this great nation is so very worthy of our thanks.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

We are free from religion!

I want to express my outrage at politicians who continue to insist that the United States is a Christian nation and that the U.S. Constitution does not guarantee that we are guaranteed to free ourselves from religion of any stripe.

There. I just did express my intense anger.

Too many pols keep insisting that their Christian devotion is good enough for everyone. Therefore, they advocate foisting Christian beliefs on students in public schools.

There can be no greater perversion of what the Constitution lays out there than the idiocy being pitched by the likes of, oh, U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado.

She recently declared that this country is a Christian nation. It is nothing of the sort. The First Amendment to the Constitution spells out in clear, concise language that “Congress shall make no law” that establishes a state religion. As I have noted already on this blog, I cannot find a single mention of the words “Christian,” “Christianity” or “Jesus Christ.”

Boebert’s congressional wing woman, Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, called herself a “Christian nationalist.” Thus, she is proud to foist her religious beliefs on every other American simply because she was elected to Congress.

The Constitution makes it abundantly clear — and the courts have affirmed it — that Americans are free to rely on the faith of their choice and that they also are free to be religion free.

It is not illegal in this country to be an atheist, or an agnostic.

Politicians who imply that it is illegal are as un-American as anyone in public life … and they should be tossed out of office.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Nix the ‘Christian nation’ talk

Rick Wilson once was a Republican Party activist and strategist. These days he shows up on TV to criticize what has become of the party of which he once was a proud member.

He showed up this past week to put down a notion espoused by right-wing nut job Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Loony Bin, who proclaimed her intention to turn the United States into a Christian nation.

Rick Wilson pours cold water on Lauren Boebert’s desire to turn America into a ‘Christian nation’ (msn.com)

Can’t do it, says Wilson.

He offered this brief explainer that I’ll just let stand on its own.

“First off, I need them to stop talking about the founders at this point,” he began. “If you stretch back to the Mayflower, this is a country that was founded on fleeing from the religious persecution of an official state religion. And when the constitution was being framed, we had states and we had leaders who all understood that this country was going to have a pluralistic approach to religion, which was to say, the government would neither condone nor suppress any religion.”

There you have it.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Term limits for SCOTUS justices? Oh, c’mon!

You are entitled officially now to consider your friendly blogger to be a constitutional originalist, meaning that the founders got it right when they established lifetime appointments for members of the federal judiciary.

Oh, but let’s hold on.

Some congressional Democrats want to rewrite the Constitution by establishing that Supreme Court justices are limited to serving just 18 years on the nation’s highest court. They don’t like the makeup of the current court and they want to shake things up in a way that, to my way of thinking, well could bring the framers jumping out of their graves.

This is a preposterous solution to an issue that is the result of the electoral process.

This term-limit idea comes from Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Ga. His bill also would require presidents to nominate two justices to the court during his or her term in office.

Oh, sigh.

In a statement accompanying the legislation, Johnson attacked the current makeup of the Supreme Court, saying that the Court is “facing a legitimacy crisis” because of its conservative majority, and because five of six conservatives were appointed by Presidents who did not win a majority of the popular vote.”

“This Supreme Court is increasingly facing a legitimacy crisis,” Johnson said. “Five of the six conservative justices on the bench were appointed by presidents who lost the popular vote, and they are now racing to impose their out-of-touch agenda on the American people, who do not want it.  Term limits are a necessary step toward restoring balance to this radical, unrestrained majority on the court.”

Democrat Bill Would Impose Term Limits On SCOTUS Justices, Mandatory Replacements Every Two Years | The Daily Wire

Let me make this point one more time. Donald Trump did not win the popular vote in 2016. President George W. Bush, though, did win the popular vote in 2004 prior to nominating Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justice Samuel Alito to the court. However, that misses a fundamental point: Both Trump and Bush won election to the presidency because they garnered more Electoral College votes than their opponents. Their elections were legal, yes, even though many of us detested the result.

The founders sought to de-politicize the federal judiciary by granting judges lifetime appointments. I will acknowledge freely that the courts have become political, however. As for the argument that Rep. Johnson and other Democrats have said about the court lacking “legitimacy,” that argument falls most directly on the head of conservative Justice Clarence Thomas, who should recuse himself from any decision involving Trump’s Big Lie.

Again, is that a sufficient reason to rewrite the Constitution? No. It isn’t.

The best way to bring needed reform in the selection of our federal judiciary is to elect presidents and members of Congress who will nominate and then approve federal judges more to their liking.

The system never has been perfect. Then again, the framers only vowed to create a “more perfect Union.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

No church-state separation? Ridiculous!

For the life of me I cannot understand how anyone with half a noodle in their noggin and with a poker face can question what the nation’s founders intended when they separated “the church” from “the state.”

The argument rages on and on. To my way of thinking, there is no argument to be made against the idea that the First Amendment separates the two.

I once had a colleague at the Amarillo Globe-News who would declare — stupidly, I should add — that the Constitution doesn’t declare in so many words that there is a “church-state separation.” Well, no, it doesn’t. Nor does it declare straight out that we shouldn’t murder other human beings.

The founders created a secular government run by a document that expressly forbids any mention of any specific religion. There’s no mention of Christianity, or of Judaism, or Islam, or Shinto,, or Buddha. Nothing, man!

All it says rests in the First Amendment, where it stipulates in plain English that “Congress shall make no law” that establishes a state religion.

Period. Full stop.

Now we have individuals, such as the distinguished Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch, referring to the “so-called separation of … church and state.” There are members of Congress, the law-writing body, saying that church-state separation is a “myth.” It’s a “hoax.” That this is a Christian nation.

These nimrods make me want to scream from the depth of my lungs.

It is true that the founders argued among themselves over whether there should be a religious clause written into the Constitution. Ultimately, though, they decided against it. They believed that government must not be hidebound to theology in writing and enforcing the laws of the land.

And yet we have rubbish being spewed by the likes of Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., who said, “I’m tired of the separation of church and state junk that’s not in the Constitution. It was in a stinking letter, and it means nothing like what they say it does.”

Actually, young lady, you are wrong on this, as you are wrong on most things. Read my lips: Church-state separation most certainly is in the Constitution.

One final point. The founders were so intent on keeping religion out of our government, they wrote in Article VI: ” … no religious Test ever shall be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.” 

Are we clear? Good! So, let’s quit having his idiotic debate.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Eternal optimism gets test

Yes, it is time to acknowledge the obvious about today’s political climate: These times test even the most optimistic among us … and you count me as one of those folks.

My eternal optimism over the strength of democracy is suffering from serious stress.

The U.S. Supreme Court has punched the hot buttons that create my anxiety. The ruling on concealed carry permits for handguns in New York got me started. Then came the decision that tossed aside Roe v. Wade, the landmark ruling that legalized abortion.

Political figures are being hectored, harangued and harassed because they insist on following the rule of law. They and their families are being threatened with bodily injury … and worse!

A president who lost re-election in Novembe 2020 threatens to overturn the results of that election in an unprecedented attack on our governmental process. His cult followers insist he is right, and the rest of the country is wrong.

I am not alone in wanting our U.S. Constitution to hold together. I believe it will. I also believe it will hold the nation together.

My family and friends are likely to tell you — if you ask them directly — that I tend to see the good in people. The recent former POTUS, though, makes me think only the worst in him. Thus, my eternal optimism is being put to a test I did not foresee occurring … even when the former POTUS was elected to the presidency in 2016.

It’s a struggle. The news I watch for much of most days depresses me, pushing my emotions to a level with which I am mostly unfamiliar. Look, I dislike feeling this way. It’s against my nature. I am not an ebullient fellow normally, but I long have maintained an innate faith that our system of government — cobbled together by our nation’s founders — is built to absorb punishment.

My inherent faith in our system of government — as imperfect and occasionally rickety as it is — will keep me going even as I fight off the depression that threatens to put me asunder.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com