Tag Archives: US Constitution

Not ‘too soon’ to debate gun violence

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Eight more Americans died this week in a shooting that erupted in Indianapolis, Ind., and once again we’re sending our “thoughts and prayers” to the victims’ loved ones.

A solution to the gun violence remains a mystery. President Biden, though, is trying to appeal to our sense of national shame. He said, according to RealClearPolitics.com:

“This has to end. It is a national embarrassment … Every single day, there’s a mass shooting in the United States,” President Biden continued. “Who in God’s name needs a weapon that can hold 40 rounds?”

Biden said: “Congress has to step up to act and pass bills on gun reform. We need to ban assault weapons. But that doesn’t mean that I can’t also be working on COVID and the economy.”

Joe Biden on Gun Violence: Mass Shootings “Every Day” Are “A National Embarrassment” And “It Has To End” | Video | RealClearPolitics

The president is preaching to the proverbial choir here, man. But the ongoing spasm of gun violence is a “national embarrassment.” I have difficulty explaining to my overseas friends how American politicians can allow this to continue.

I do my best, though, to explain to them foreigners the nuance contained in the Second Amendment to our Constitution. It reads: “A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

The one element of that Amendment that I cannot explain is the construction of the single sentence, which seems to contain a couple of non-sequiturs. I cannot connect the part about the “well-regulated Militia” with the “right of the people to keep and bear Arms.”

But it’s written into our nation’s founding government document. That makes it virtually impossible to trifle with.

However, I shudder at the thought of all this violence. I have trouble facing down my overseas friends who challenge the idea that our political leaders cannot find a solution that keeps faith with what our founders carved out.

OK, so here we are. Eight more victims have been slain by a madman. We need to ramp up the debate right now over how we can eliminate this “national embarrassment.”

Motor vehicles are heavily regulated, too

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

A fascinating item showed up this morning on my Facebook news feed that tells us that they’ve been regulating automobiles for decades, but that “no one has taken our cars away.”

Well …

What do you think of that? I happen to think it is a relevant statement in light of the building debate — yet again — over whether there can be sensible, constitutional gun regulations in this country.

The discussion has flared once more in light of two horrific massacres, in Atlanta and then in Boulder, Colo. Eighteen people died in the carnage.

President Biden has called for an outright ban on assault weapons and for universal background checks on every human being who wants to purchase a firearm. Make ’em wait for, oh, three days before being cleared to walk away with a gun.

Is that reasonable? I believe it is. I mean, if you’re a “law-abiding citizen” of the United States of America, you shouldn’t worry one little bit about waiting for three whole days or so to get your gun. Right?

Does that take away anyone’s Second Amendment right to “keep and bear arms”? I don’t think so, but yet the gun lobby is reigniting the scare campaign that suggests these notions are attempts to take guns away from Americans.

No! They are nothing of the kind! They are initiatives intended to make it just a little more difficult for lunatics to purchase firearms.

As the social media message points, we have been regulating automobile ownership for decades. We have to have insurance. We have to be licensed by the state where we live. If we drive without a license and are caught by police, we can be thrown in jail. If we are involved in an auto wreck and we aren’t properly insured, we also can be jailed, and fined, and held liable for thousands of dollars in medical expenses.

Look along our streets and highways and tell me if you think there’s been a decline in motor vehicle traffic.

Nor would there be a decline in firearms among law-abiding citizens if we attach a few more sensible rules for their purchase.

Ol’ Ben was a wise man

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Benjamin Franklin well might be my favorite Founding Father.

He was an inventor, a diplomat, a writer, a statesman, a scientist and a man of impeccable vision. He was 70 years old and in poor health when he put his name on the Declaration of Independence.

But he knew the value of free speech and vigorous political discourse. A quote from ol’ Ben appeared this week in the Princeton (Texas) Herald that I want to share:

“Freedom of speech is a principal pillar of a free government; when this support is taken away, the constitution of a free society is dissolved, and tyranny is erected in its ruins. Republics … derive their strength and vigor from a popular examination into the action of the magistrates.”

Franklin’s wisdom is worth sharing today because of the battering that free speech and expression has taken in recent years. We’ve just been through a horrendous political era in which the nation elected a man with no understanding of government and of the precepts that drive it. Donald Trump encouraged his followers to “beat the  hell” out of protesters at his rallies. He called the press the “enemy of the people.” He abhors criticism directed at him in any form and along the way developed a following of like-minded individuals who adhere to his strange and dangerous notion of a democratic society.

Benjamin Franklin had it exactly right when he wrote the words I have copied.

Franklin knew about the inherent strength that democracies get from “a popular examination into the action of the magistrates.” My goodness, the very First Amendment to our Constitution guarantees the right of citizens to “peaceably … assemble, and to petition government for a redress of grievances.”

We have heard plenty of talk about the “peaceable” part of protesting. It gets out of hand at times. Violence is not the answer and those of us who value what Benjamin Franklin believed abhor the violence that occasionally erupts when citizens get angry.

I am going to set the insurrection of Jan. 6 aside from this discussion. It was a singularly heinous act by a mob of terrorists who had no intention of seeking a peaceful solution to their grievances.

As we move forward from that horrifying event, let us not lose sight of the principle on which the founders — such as the great Benjamin Franklin — created this government. It is that we are allowed to protest what our government does in the performance of its duties.

The end result of Franklin’s wisdom is the realization that we are the bosses of those we select to represent us.

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!

Trump to linger a while

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

This much is becoming evident the day after the U.S. Senate failed to convict Donald Trump of inciting the insurrection on Jan. 6.

The ex-president is going to remain within our field of vision for a good bit longer. As much as I want him to fade into the shadows, never to be seen or heard again, I fear my wish will go ignored.

The media cannot seem to get enough of this guy. He fired off a statement Saturday after 57 senators voted to convict him of inciting the riot that stormed Capitol Hill; the guilty votes weren’t sufficient to register as a conviction by the body, though. I’ll call it a “conviction” only because it was a bipartisan vote to punish Trump, with seven Republicans joining their Democratic colleagues to stand for the Constitution and the sacred oaths they took.

Now the talk centers on what it means for the Republican Party. Trump still commands a huge following among the GOP faithful, although their fealty is aimed at the man and not party principle or philosophy.

The 2022 midterm election already is looming just over the horizon and so the pundit class will examine the influence that Trump might exert on the GOP primary fields as they develop across the land. Given that I am not among the GOP faithful, it doesn’t matter very much to me, other than what it might portend for the future of a once-great political party.

I’ve had some critics of this blog suggest I cannot get past Donald Trump. They’re right to this extent: For as long as the media continue to pay attention to him, I feel compelled to offer commentary on what flies out of his mouth. I will do so, albeit a good bit more sparingly than when he was masquerading as president of the U.S. of A.

He’s still out there. Lurking, preening and prancing. That’s what narcissists do. I just want him to vanish.

The logic? Where is it?

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Someone will have to explain this bit of logic to me.

Donald J. Trump’s legal team is preparing to argue at their client’s impeachment trial that the trial is unconstitutional. Why is that? Because you cannot “impeach a president” who is no longer in office.

That’s what I hear them preparing to say.

Except for this little factoid. The House of Representatives voted to impeach Donald Trump on Jan. 13. He was still the president of the United States when the House impeached him.

Thus, and this is just little ol’ me, the impeachment is quite constitutional. Donald Trump had a week to go before he high-tailed it to Florida.

The Senate trial cannot remove him from office, which I guess factors into what Trump’s lawyers are thinking. However, and this is important, the Constitution does not specify that a president must still be in office during a trial.

Article I, Section 3 of the founding governing document notes that “judgment shall not extend further than to removal from office.” The founders did not say that removal was the only punishment; my reading of the constitutional text tells me that the punishment could not exceed removal. So … what’s the deal with that argument against conducting an impeachment trial of a former president?

If the Senate convicts Trump — and that is a huge mountain to scale, I know — then it could have a separate vote to bar Trump from ever seeking public office. The conviction bar is high, requiring a two-thirds vote; the ancillary vote requires only a simple majority of the Senate.

I know that I am not a lawyer or a constitutional scholar. I know what the Constitution says, though, and it tells me that a Senate trial meets the constitutional standard.

Impeachment is not the issue. The House delivered the goods while Trump was in office. The burden falls solely on the Senate to demand that Trump be held accountable for inciting the riot that damn near wrecked our democratic form of government.

Rep. Cheney ‘won’t bend’

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

I sure hope I don’t choke on these words, so I’ll take great care when I write them.

It is that I am proud of U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., for standing on principle and not “bending” to the whims of partisan hacks.

Cheney has come under intense fire from Donald Trump’s core of lunatics who are angry at her because she voted on Jan. 13 to impeach their hero. The Wyoming Republican Party has censured her for her vote.

Rep. Cheney isn’t backing down. Not one bit!

She told “Fox News Sunday” this morning: “The oath that I took to the Constitution compelled me to vote for impeachment, and it doesn’t bend to partisanship. It doesn’t bend to political pressure,” she added. “It’s the most important oath that we take, and so I will stand by that, and I will continue to fight for all of the issues that matter so much to us all across Wyoming.”

Cheney on Trump impeachment vote: ‘The oath that I took … doesn’t bend to partisanship’ | TheHill

How about that, ladies and gentlemen? She reveres the oath she took when she joined the House of Representatives. That oath compels her to protect the Constitution and the laws of the land. She did not swear any fealty to Donald Trump. She didn’t give him a pass for inciting the Jan. 6 insurrection that well could have brought great physical harm to all 535 members of Congress … and the then-vice president, Mike Pence.

They were gathered on Capitol Hill to do their constitutional duty, which was to certify the results of an election that proclaimed President Joe Biden the winner over Donald Trump.

Cheney and the other GOP House members who voted to impeach Trump all have incurred the wrath of the Trumpkin Corps.

I mentioned “choking” on these words. It is because Liz Cheney is not my kind of politician. She is too right-wing for my taste. I would not vote for her if I lived in Wyoming.

However, I am addressing only her principled stand against the insurrection that Donald Trump incited with his angry rhetoric to the mob that stood before him.

It is amazing in the extreme that Rep. Cheney would have to defend her vote to defend the Constitution, but she did … and for that I am proud of her.

Is it constitutional? Yes!

.

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Donald Trump’s Senate suck-ups are making what I believe is a specious argument about the constitutionality of a pending Senate trial of the former president of the United States.

Here is what the nation’s founding government document says about impeachment in Article I, Section 3, Clauses 6 and 7:

The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments. When sitting for that Purpose, they shall be on Oath or Affirmation. When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside: And no person shall be convicted without the concurrence of two thirds of the Members present. Judgment in Cases of Impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from Office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States; but the Party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to Indictment, Trial, Judgment and Punishment, according to the law.

That in effect is the sum of what the Constitution lays out.

Trump is going to stand trial a second time. The Senate acquitted him the first time on multiple charges of abuse of power and coercing a foreign government. This time he is standing trial on a single charge that he incited an insurrection.

He left office on Jan. 20, meaning that he cannot be “removed” from an office he no longer occupies.

But let’s parse the language of what the founders wrote, OK?

They wrote that “judgment shall not extend further than to removal from Office.” The way I read that clause means that removal from office is the maximum punishment that a conviction that deliver. It doesn’t preclude any other judgment.

If one is to take an “originalist” view of the Constitution — acknowledging what the founders intended when they wrote it — then one could presume that the brilliant men who crafted the document would accept the idea of putting a former president on trial.

But … the suck-ups in the Senate are likely to stand firm in their cowardly attempt to curry favor with Donald Trump’s lunatic base of voters who would threaten them if they do the right thing.

This isn’t our ‘best’

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Make no mistake, I am not a Pollyanna. I know good bit about our political system, about how we can elect zeroes as well as heroes to our governing bodies.

But, oh brother, we have an astonishing number of numbskulls in Congress, taking power and being handed the opportunity to make laws that govern all of us, not just those who send them to Congress from their various states and congressional districts.

Marjorie Taylor-Greene, I am talking about you.

Rep. Taylor-Greene is the walking, talking embodiment of a domestic demon in our midst. She represents a Georgia congressional district and she is a believer in that QAnon cult that has gripped millions of Americans by the genitals.

She believes Muslims cannot serve legitimately in Congress; she has stated that the Sandy Hook and Parkland, Fla., school massacres were hoaxes; she says President Biden stole the election from Donald Trump; she has called for the summary execution of Democrats.

Yes, she is now among the 535 men and women who serve in the legislative branch of government.

She is a traitor. A potential terrorist. She is certifiably unfit to serve in a public office.

And yet … the folks in her congressional district sent her to Capitol Hill. Astonishing, yes? You know the answer. It is frightening in the extreme.

The news gets even worse. Congress contains others who hold the same view as this idiot. Oh, and the Republican leadership to which she ostensibly answers isn’t calling her, slapping her down, telling her to keep her mouth shut. They stand behind the First Amendment’s free speech clause.

I am a big believer in free speech and in the First Amendment. I also believe free speech should be responsible and shouldn’t be perceived as a threat to our very government.

This member of Congress doesn’t represent our best. She represents the worst of us.

Abbott welcomes crooked company to Texas?

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Gov. Greg Abbott just couldn’t contain his joy at learning that the National Rifle Association has announced plans to relocate to Texas.

Why, Texas “safeguards the Second Amendment,” the governor proclaimed after the bankruptcy-bound gun rights group made its announcement.

Hold on, governor. The NRA’s decision to relocate to some still-undisclosed Texas location doesn’t have a damn thing to do with the Second Amendment. It has everything to do with allegations that the NRA’s top echelon has mismanaged donors’ money, spending it on lavish vacations and other perks that have no relation to the company’s corporate message.

Pardon the pun, but Gov. Abbott has missed the mark badly by throwing out the welcome mat to an organization that has been accused of being crooked to the core.

As Politico reports: The announcement came months after New York’s attorney general sued the organization over claims that top executives illegally diverted tens of millions of dollars for lavish personal trips, no-show contracts for associates and other questionable expenditures.

NRA declares bankruptcy, plans to incorporate in Texas – POLITICO

Suppose the New York AG’s investigation proves that the NRA is guilty of what’s been alleged. Is that the kind of company that Gov. Abbott wants doing business in Texas? Really … governor?

Don’t misunderstand me on this point. I consider the NRA to be populated by demagogues at its highest level. These individuals have bullied politicians for decades into keeping their hands off any legislative remedies to the gun violence plague that continues to kill innocent Americans. The NRA contends that anything — any law at all — would usurp the Second Amendment’s guarantee that Americans should be able to “keep and bear arms.”

I, too, support the Second Amendment. I also believe it can be preserved while Congress can enact laws that make it impossible for lunatics to acquire firearms.

As for the NRA’s decision to bring its alleged corruption to Texas, well … no thanks.