Tag Archives: Founding Fathers

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

Founders’ ideal is trashed

Our nation’s founders had this glorious idea when they created an independent state in the New World that there ought to be three co-equal branches of government, with one of those branches — the judiciary — set aside to be free of political pressure.

The other two — the executive and legislative branches — would be wholly political, they reckoned.

It is a sad thing to acknowledge that the federal judiciary has become a political tool of the forces that seek to determine who sits in judgment on matters brought before the courts.

We are witnessing play out yet again with President Biden’s decision to nominate Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to a spot on the nation’s Supreme Court. She is eminently qualified to serve on the court. Her stellar legal background and her educational chops ought to be sufficient to guarantee that the Senate would confirm her.

That isn’t the case. She was pilloried and pounded during her 19 hours of testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Senators — those of the Republican ilk — chose to demonize her over her duties as a federal public defender. They criticized her sentencing practices, of course taking most of it out of context.

You can spare me the “what about-ism” involving Republican-appointed judicial nominees getting roughed up during their Senate confirmation hearings. I am well aware of what happened in the past. I am not going to give anyone a pass based on recent political history for the treatment that was leveled at Judge Jackson.

My concern is that the founders’ notion of lifting the federal judiciary out of the political sewer has been flushed away. They intended the federal bench to be free of politics by establishing lifetime appointments to the federal bench. Gosh, it seems to me at this moment that the lifetime appointment provision only has worsened the politicization.

I am left merely to lament the grievous wound that has been inflicted on the founders’ ideal when they established this great nation. I’ll just hope for all it’s worth that the wound isn’t mortal.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Faith wavers, however …

My faith in this country’s democratic fabric is beginning to stumble, stagger and is wavering in light of what might lie ahead as we slog through the midterm election and then approach the 2024 presidential election.

I keep hearing dire predictions of democratic doom if Donald J. Trump gets nominated by the Republican Party in 2024 and then wins the presidency; FYI, it pains me greatly just typing those words at the front end of this sentence.

I am not going to predict that Trump will be the GOP nominee, let alone be elected POTUS in three years.

You see, I possess a gigantic reservoir of faith in the strength of our governmental system. I will continue to cling tightly to my belief that Americans are smarter than what many of our national pundits are suggesting. The fear is being expressed from the left side of the great divide. Progressives say they are concerned that the coup attempt that failed on 1/6 could be revived if Republicans gain control of Congress after the midterm election; I believe GOP emergence is far more likely than not.

Through it all, though, my sincere hope and belief is that our democracy will find a way to emerge from the smoldering wreckage.

Let’s be clear about a thing or two. We have endured tremendous crises in our history. We fought among ourselves in a Civil War that killed 600,000-plus Americans; we emerged victorious in two bloody worldwide conflicts; we watched a president resign in disgrace just ahead of an impeachment over an extreme abuse of power and constitutional authority; we endured three more presidential impeachments, in 1998, 2020 and 2021.

I agree that the final impeachment was the direct result of a POTUS inciting an insurrection and then doing nothing to call a halt to it as rioters carrying flags with the POTUS’s name stormed the Capitol Building while seeking to halt the certification of the 2020 election results.

And we are still dealing with the fallout of that riot, which has caused those progressive pundits to express fear for the future of our democracy.

I want to stipulate once more than our nation’s founders built a government designed to withstand these challenges. Those men knew what they were doing.

I am going to place my faith in our founders’ wisdom, even as my faith is showing signs of wear and tear.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Eagle makes heroic return

(Photo by: Prisma Bildagentur/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

We have been languishing in a flood of negative news of late: the pandemic, Donald Trump’s shenanigans, economic collapse … blah, blah, blah.

I want to share a bit of seriously good cheer: the return of the bald eagle.

This is worth cheering. The nation’s proud symbol once was on the brink of extinction. Then the federal government banned the use of DDT, a powerful pesticide that had poisoned water that provided fish for the eagles to consume. The birds would feed on the poisoned fish and die from DDT-related complications.

As National Public Radio reported: Contamination from DDT, a powerful insecticide that found its way into eagles’ prey, made their eggs so fragile that they often broke while their parents incubated them.

Then came the Endangered Species Act in 1972. DDT was banned. The eagles began their comeback. The eagle population has quadrupled since 2009, according to the Interior Department.

This is a bit of a mixed blessing in one aspect. The overall bird population continues to decline. So, I am not going to offer a full-throated cheer for the eagle’s return. I remain concerned about the decline in wildlife numbers.

Interior Secretary Deb Haaland calls the eagle’s comeback a “historic conservation success story.” Haaland, the first Native American appointed to a Cabinet post, said the eagle “has always been considered a sacred species to American Indian people, and similarly it’s sacred to our nation as America’s national symbol.”

Once Imperiled, America’s Bald Eagle Populations Are Soaring | 88.9 KETR

To think, also, that at the founding of this great nation, that one of our founding fathers, Benjamin Franklin, disliked naming the eagle as our national symbol; he preferred to give that designation to the turkey. What in the world was Ol’ Ben thinking?

Indeed, the phrase “soar like a turkey” just doesn’t have the same ring as “soar like an eagle.” 

The nation’s grand bird has come back. For that I want to salute not only the bird, but those in government who in 1972 had the good sense to take action to stop its senseless slaughter.

LGBT bill needs to pass

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

As someone who believes a person’s sexual orientation is delivered at birth, I am perplexed — no surprise here — at Republican opposition to a bill that grants gay people protection against losing their job because of who they love.

The U.S. House of Representatives has approved a bill that prohibits discrimination against LGBT Americans. It faces an uphill climb in the Senate because Senate Republicans believe it infringes on their religious freedom.

Oh, my.

I keep asking myself when I hear this argument: What part of the term “secular document” do these folks not comprehend? Yes, the U.S. Constitution is a secular document drafted by smart men who sought to keep religion out of the nation’s governing framework. Now, I know that they also granted us all religious liberty, that we are free to worship — or not worship — as we please.

The founders also wrote into the Constitution a clause that grants “equal protection under the law” for every single American. It makes no distinction among Americans’ sexual orientation.

This is a sticky issue. I am acutely aware of the toes it steps on.

BBC reports: The act would also federally codify into law the 2020 June Supreme Court ruling that said employers who fire workers for being gay or transgender are violating civil rights law.

Advocates for the act have argued that the current “patchwork” of state anti-discrimination laws does not provide enough comprehensive protection, and leaves many LGBT individuals at risk.

More from the BBC: Before the vote, the conservative Heritage Foundation think tank said the act “would make mainstream beliefs about marriage, biological facts about sex differences, and many sincerely held beliefs punishable under the law.”

US House passes bill protecting LGBT rights (msn.com)

I have sought to make this case before, but I’ll try once again. The U.S. Constitution governs a nation founded by individuals who sought to live free of ham-handed religious dogma.

Civil rights legislation approved repeatedly over the years and affirmed by the Supreme Court has sought to ensure that all Americans enjoy the same freedom from discrimination. Shouldn’t that include LGBT Americans, too? Of course it should!