Tag Archives: US Constitution

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.


Keeping faith in our system

Worriers have expressed concern about whether our “fragile democracy” can withstand the assault that has been launched against it.

I will not join the worry warts among us. I am proclaiming my implicit faith in the strength of our democratic process and my belief that it will emerge from this crisis stronger than when it all began.

Donald Trump lost a presidential election in 2020 but his frontal assault on our democratic process has persisted. He has sought to undermine Americans’ faith in our electoral system by proclaiming that he lost only because of “widespread voter fraud.”

The judicial system has withstood those challenges by rejecting them in court.

I am not naive to ignore what might be lurking on the political horizon. Election deniers are winning primary races, positioning themselves to possibly take office at the end of the year. They are thought to be in position to set future electoral policy that could benefit Donald Trump and his minions at the ballot box.

I am going to rely on my belief — and I don’t think it’s misplaced — that voters are smarter than that. It falls on the rest of us to remind them repeatedly of the folly of doing something foolish.

Therein lies the strength of our democratic process. We still have that thing we call the “marketplace of ideas.” Thus, my generally optimistic nature demands that I place my faith that wisdom will win out … and that our collective good sense will preserve our cherished democratic process.

Let me remind you that we have survived world wars, a civil war and all manner of constitutional crises. The common denominator in all of those struggles: the U.S. Constitution. It will hold the nation together again.


Constitution still works

Gerald R. Ford became president on Aug. 9, 1974, and told the nation weary of scandal, “Our Constitution works.” 

It did then. It is working now as the House select committee assigned to get to the truth behind the 1/6 insurrection slogs on in its quest.

A president resigned in disgrace and President Ford took control just as the Constitution prescribes. A future president summoned a traitorous mob to “take back our government” on 1/6 and sought to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.

The Constitution gives the speaker of the House the sole authority to appoint a committee to examine that horrible event. Speaker Nancy Pelosi followed the Constitution, and we now are watching that panel continue on its journey.

Where the committee concludes remains to be seen. I have my hope for what I want to see happen. If that hope doesn’t come true, then I am going to accept the panel’s findings, given that it is legally constituted and has done its duty as it sees fit.

Thus, we are witnessing in real time once again the durability and strength of the nation’s governing framework.

Those framers were smart men … don’t you think?


Disqualification … maybe?

A good friend brought something to my attention while responding to an earlier blog post wondering about how to keep Donald Trump from ever holding public office for as long as he lives.

He cited Section 3 of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which states the following: No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice-President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.

The U.S. House select 1/6 committee is examining whether Donald J. Trump committed an act of insurrection against the government on 1/6 by inciting the assault on Capitol Hill by the mob of traitors who sought to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election … the one that Trump lost to Joe Biden.

What does any of this mean? Consider what could occur.

The Justice Department, after hearing all the evidence — which to my mind is pretty damning already — could indict Trump for citing an insurrection. Trump could go to trial. A jury could convict the former POTUS of deliberately seeking to overturn the election results.

Then Congress — with a conviction in hand — could vote, under the Constitution’s rules, bar Trump from ever seeking public office.

Few things in life would make me happier than to see that occur.


‘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!


Words to live by

I shall be brief, but whoever wrote this message that showed up on my social media feed today deserves a high-five, an atta boy/girl, and some extra Brownie points for just being so damn spot on!

The sanctimonious among us just piss me off to no end. They seek to legislate sexual behavior, morality, whether women should remain pregnant. They tell us we live in a “Christian nation” when we clearly, categorically and without a shadow of a doubt do not; if they read the Constitution — which I have done countless times over my life — they would know that.

There. I’m done with this one. Thanks to whomever penned these words.


Let the coach pray

This is one of those issues that makes my public-policy heartburn flare up, so here goes a shot at trying to make sense of something.

Joseph Kennedy was a football coach at Bremerton (Wash.) High School. He once knelt in prayer at the 50-yard line, thanking the Almighty for keeping the players safe. A few players then joined him, voluntarily. The players and the coach would pray after games.

Then word got out that he was doing it. News spread around the school district. I guess someone took issue with it, contending it violated the First Amendment prohibition against Congress establishing a state religion.

Now the case is going to the U.S. Supreme Court.

What a crock!

I do not understand why this case even is being discussed. The coach lost his job over his praying on the field. He moved to Florida.

“It seems so simple to me: It’s a guy taking a knee by himself on the 50-yard-line, which to me doesn’t seem like it needs a rocket scientist or a Supreme Court justice to figure out,” he told CBS News. “I didn’t want to cause any waves, and the thing I wanted to do was coach football and thank God after the game.”

Then we have this response: “When a coach uses the power of his job to be in a place and have access to students at a time when they’re expected to encircle him and come to him, that’s an abuse of that power and a violation of the Constitution,” Rachel Laser, president and CEO of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, told CBS News’ Jan Crawford. “Religious freedom is not the right to impose your religion on others. We all need to have it, so that’s why the free exercise and establishment clause work together to protect religious freedom for all of us.”

Imposing religion? Wow!

After losing his job for praying on the field, ex-high school football coach Joe Kennedy brings case to Supreme Court – CBS News

As I understand it, the coach didn’t demand players pray with him; it was strictly voluntary. Nor do I believe he preached New Testament Gospel lessons. Which makes me wonder if Jewish, Buddhist or Muslim students could pray to “God” in the same fashion as their Christian teammates.

There is no “sanctioning” of a religion occurring in these prayers. Is there?

Well, the SCOTUS is going to hear the case. My hunch is that the court’s 6-3 super-conservative-majority is going to find that Coach Kennedy violated no constitutional prohibition.

I am OK with that. Let the coach pray.


Our guns are safe!

Eric Swallwell makes his point with crystal clarity. He writes in an op-ed that appeared on Newsweek.com:

For decades, one of the most tried and true scare tactics by the gun lobby is that the government—specifically Democrats—are coming for your guns. These misinformation campaigns have been used for years to scare law-abiding Americans into thinking they are going to be put under government surveillance to confiscate their guns.

I must stipulate a couple of points. One is that Swallwell is a Democratic congressman and a former prosecuting attorney from California who, in 2021, presided over the second impeachment of Donald J. Trump. He is a fierce partisan.

The second point is that I am one of those “law-abiding Americans” who owns a couple of firearms. I’ve had ’em for many decades. One of the long guns is a .22-caliber rifle my father gave me when I was about 12. The second one is a 30.06-caliber scoped rifle that had been re-bored from its original life as a .303-caliber Enfield; Dad gave that one to me many years ago.

The .22 is a single-shot bolt-action weapon. The 30.06 carries a magazine of five rounds, with a sixth bullet in the chamber. They’re both hidden deeply in our North Texas home.

Why spell out those details? Because as a law-abiding American citizen who — by the way — is angered and appalled at the gun violence that plagues this nation, I have no difficulty with efforts to control the flow of firearms onto our streets.

President Biden Does Not Want to Take Your Guns Away | Opinion (newsweek.com)

I also am acutely aware of what the Constitution’s Second Amendment says about firearms.

It just galls me to the max when I hear demagogues try to place nefarious motives in the hearts of minds of others with regard to guns and their place in modern American society.

The gun lobby seeks to frighten Americans. The lobbyists appear to be winning the argument. Too many Americans are afraid of an enemy that does not exist with regard our guns.


Did she violate her oath? Yep!

The 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution says this in Section 3 of that amendment; it provides a vivid explanation of who can serve in Congress.

It states: No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice-President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.

A member of Congress, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Georgia Republican, is being challenged by those who believe she engaged in an insurrection on 1/6. That she helped incite the crowd to storm the Capitol Building that day.

If she is found culpable, her congressional career could end.

OK, recognizing my own bias, I believe she did what she is accused of doing and that she should be denied the chance to seek re-election from the 14th Congressional District of Georgia.

The QAnon-believing, Stop the Steal, Big Lie believer has been nothing but a pain in ass since she took her seat in Congress in early 2021.

But … let’s allow this evidentiary hearing process to play out.


Where do we go post-Roe?

Abortion isn’t an issue that occupies much of my conscious thought, but occasionally I do wonder about the future of a woman’s world if (and likely when) the U.S. Supreme Court finds a way to overturn Roe vs. Wade, the landmark ruling that made abortion legal in this country.

The court will issue a ruling before the end of its current term that appears — by all that I heard and read so far — spell the end of Roe as we have known it since the court issued its ruling in January 1973.

The SCOTUS declared that the U.S. Constitution gave women the right to govern their bodies. That they had the right under the Constitution to terminate a pregnancy. Anti-abortion activists have been fighting like crazy ever since to overturn the ruling.

They now appear to have enough of a majority on the high court to end it. States, such as Texas, have taken it on their own to seriously restrict women’s right to obtain an abortion. Texas has made it illegal for a woman to end a pregnancy at the six-week mark … before many women even know they are pregnant. Now comes Oklahoma, our northern neighbor, to make it a crime for someone to obtain an abortion.

Think of the irony here. Conservatives who used to bristle at what they determined to be “too much government interference” now embrace the notion of government interfering with women’s most painful decision.

I believe it was President Bill Clinton who once said his intent was to make abortion “legal but rare.” I share that goal.

As for the future of abortion, I just need to reiterate a point I long have made. I cannot advise a woman to obtain an abortion. Why? That isn’t my call. Nor is it the call of any legislator, or member of Congress, or president or judge. It belongs to the woman most intimately affected.

That is where the decision should remain.