Archive for August, 2013

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  • August 30th, 2013

What Rhymes With “Mitch”?

By Joel M. Vance

Mitch McConnell, the chinless wonder who leads the Republicans in the Senate and claims to represent all Kentuckians, is facing a serious challenge from a woman next year.  He’s been around long enough to grow moss, and if ever there was a needful retiree, he’s it.

McConnell, you recall, is the Republican who said the only agenda he had was to defeat Barack Obama in 2012.  Nevermind the business of government or the good of the citizenry.  The grumpy old fart has continued to oppose anything that smacks of good work, including opposition to the Violence Against Women Act.  It appears that this weasely old pol has no quarrel with burly white guys beating the crap out of their better halves.

You have to wonder how he ever got the vote of a woman, but perhaps in his Kentucky women either don’t vote or vote the way their redneck mates tell them or risk a whuppin’.   At present, a long way from the next election, Democrat secretary of state Alison Lundergan Grimes is running in a tie with McConnell.   She is the youngest female secretary of state in the country which if anything shows Kentucky is willing to change its attitude toward women and, one would hope, its attitude toward its longtime Senator.  Of course, this also is the state that elected Rand Paul as its other senator, a guy who, if anything, is so far right of McConnell that he makes the chinless wonder look like a flaming socialist.

But McConnell has been a pothole in the road of life when it comes to women.  Consider:   He’s the quintessential anti-choice pol.   He crusades for the right of a boss to deny health care.  He opposes equal pay for women.  He’s opposed to raising the minimum wage.

A few years ago I attended a Christian Church wedding and was absolutely infuriated by the wedding vows which required the bride to affirm that her husband would be the absolute authority in the family,that she would defer to him in all matters.  As part of the traditional Christian Church vows, the woman says: “Christ told us that the wife must submit herself unto her own husband as unto the Lord. For as Christ is Head of His Church so is the husband head of his wife.”

The authority for this attitude comes from several Biblical entries, and essentially relegates women to second class status—a Christian-sanctioned servitude.   Theologians try to modify this intransigent imperative by saying that subservience actually leads to a more harmonious relationship which sound like bull flop to me.  Often it leads to spousal abuse.  It just plain rankles for anyone who believes, as I do, that women should be co-equal with men and that men have many centuries of misbehavior to make up for.  Don’t forget, the Bible was written by a bunch of guys and guys are jealous of their imagined superiority.  The Bible was written in a time when women were no better than property, so it’s no surprise that the authors regarded them as second class humans.  They didn’t even get the right to vote in the United States until the 19th Amendment passed in 1920.

The idea that women should be subservient to men dates from Adam and Eve.  Eve, so the Bible says, was created from Adam’s rib to serve him.  Come on, that’s fantastical crap.  It is a fantasy created by men to justify their testosterone-fueled chauvinism and it was outdated long before the New Testament came along.  It’s Old Testament baloney to justify everything from female servitude to killing anyone who bugs you (“an eye for an eye”)

Nowhere in that updating of Christianity we call the New Testament does Jesus downgrade women and in fact Mary Magdalene was co-equal with Jesus and supported him and the 12 apostles (and, according to some, was married to Jesus).  Guys later on tried to smear her as a whore, but that’s typical of male mudslinging.  Just another case of putting women down to reinforce your chest-beating machismo.   Harvard theologian Dr. Karen King says Mary Magdalene actually was a leader of one wing of the early Christian movement, not a fallen woman “more to be pitied than scorned.”

Having worked both with and for women for many years, I am convinced in my own mind that women generally have it all over guys in almost every way—tolerance, understanding, empathy, courage and anything else you can think of.   Guys, on the other hand, are stuffed with the “mine is bigger than yours” angst and far more prone to exercise petty authority than the average woman.

Not that a nasty woman can’t be just as obnoxious as a nasty man, but I think there are far fewer tyrannical bullies among women than there are among men—Congress being a prime example.  There are a few really obnoxious women in politics (Jan Brewer, Arizona governor springs to mind, as does Michelle Bachmann, the quintessential nutcase.  How about Liz Cheney who recently got ticketed for fishing with an erroneous license.  At least she didn’t shoot anybody like her daddy did.  And there’s Sarah Palin, the Godmother of Nuts.  And then there is North Carolina’s Virginia Foxx who looks like your gramma but who is against women’s rights, gays, student loans and who says the Obama regulation of for-profit colleges is like Germans who didn’t stand up to the Nazis in the 1930s.

But these women are exceptions, both in Congress and in general.  Every group is entitled to its share of screwballs and women have fewer than the guys by a long way.

Back to the chinless wonder: McConnell’s led the Republican Party against equal pay for equal work.  He’s opposed to access to key preventative services for women, including cancer screenings and birth control.  He even voted against the Violence Against Women Act, support of which you’d think would be a no brainer—but no brains is what he exhibited.  It’s no wonder why Kentucky women logically should think he’s out of touch with their values.

His opponent, Alison Lundergan Grimes is an attorney, a voting rights advocate. She’s spent her time in office improving Kentucky’s voting laws to increase participation, empowering military voters, and improving the Bluegrass State’s business climate.  The right wing is mounting a massive money campaign to defeat her because she scares the crap out of them.  Right now polls show her tied or slightly ahead of the Chinless Wonder, but the Karl Rove dirty tricks money hasn’t started rolling in yet.

Time was when money didn’t necessarily buy political influence, but it’s always been an oozing sore on Democracy.  We’ll never be entirely free from the political bang from the buck, but if every citizen actually looked at the facts instead of swallowing the lies paid for by the Roves of the world, and voted based on informed decisions, we’d have the country we like to brag that we have.  But as long as the Roves sluice the airwaves with deceptive and negative advertising and as long as enough voters believe it, we’ll suffer with the McConnells of the political world.

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  • August 20th, 2013

Two Over Easy, Please

By Joel M. Vance

The classic conundrum is which came first, the chicken or the egg?  If we believe the old saying, “A chicken is an egg’s method of reproducing more eggs,” then the egg did.  Or maybe the chicken since something logically had to create the egg to create a chicken to, in turn, create an egg.

It is such contradictions that lead philosophers to a life work and probable madness.  Logicians logically throw up their hands, not to mention their lunch

Many myths of creation credit the egg, not the chicken: it symbolizes the Big Bang, the explosion that allegedly created the universe, just as an egg explodes to reveal the chick within.

But no mythologist explains where the egg came from that laid that Big Banger.  This knotty question has been around almost as long as the Bang itself: without a chicken to lay the egg, how can there be an egg?  But without the egg to hatch the chicken how can there be a chicken.  It’s enough to make a feller scratch his head.  Think about this, too: chickens are the only creature we eat before they are born and after they die.  There is something eerie about that thought.

Evolutionists explain the chicken/egg conundrum  by, well, evolution.  Creationists explain it by Divine construction.  Those who don’t want to think about it or who have given up finding a logical explanation, resort to the familiar bumper sticker “Shit Happens.”  Or, if they’re environmentally oriented, “Compost Happens.”

It’s intriguing that warm blooded animals have developed a deliciously intimate method of fertilizing an egg with a sperm.  There are other ways: fish perhaps enjoy a shuddering moment of bliss as the male releases milt to cover the eggs laid by the female—but the whole process seems wet and uncomfortable.

You  could  explain creation by having a human spring full-blown from the head of Zeus, like Athena—a form of birth that, while effective for the gods, sounds like the mother of all hangovers.

Or one could divide and conquer like amoebae.  But as squirmy as they appear under magnification, amoebal antics lack the passion of animal sex.  B.B. King will not sing about the thrill being gone from petri dish hi jinks because it never was there in the first place.

The first mammals to land on Mars are not likely to find humanoid denizens of the Red Planet doin’ it in the bushes.  More likely life there will be slime mold which procreates by individual cells swarming together to create something that is not headed for the cover of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition.

Only mammals make a sport out of procreation which can be interpreted either as a manifestation of our Divine origin or cosmic blind luck.  Whatever the explanation, humans demonstrably have more fun fertilizing their eggs than any other creature.

Eggs have been a part of our lives forever.  The Egyptians worshipped a goose god named Seb, known as The Great Cackler, a name which somehow lacks the charisma of God or Allah or even Zeus.  Maybe it sounded better in Egyptian.

Eggs were everywhere in myth.  The sun came from an egg.  Also the earth.  It made a good story when the wolves were prowling just outside the circle of firelight.  The truth of eggs is important enough.  Birds and eggs are two of the most amazing creations (or evolutions) that we have.

The egg is nature’s perfect package, a shape so incredibly well-designed that it cannot be improved on, except by nature and chances are nature has finished with eggs and moved on to something else—people, for example, where there’s much room for improvement.

Whether it’s evolution or just birds doing some basic engineering, the egg is an adaptable mechanism.  The eggs of birds that lay on cliff ledges are more sharply-pointed than those of ground nesters so they won’t roll over the edge.  If they roll at all it will be in a tight circle.  Whether God or evolution, the refinement is a life-saving refinement.

Pointy eggs are another chicken/egg conundrum.  If it’s evolutionary, that implies the birds began laying eggs that were conventionally round then evolved them to pointy as the birds realized their output was falling over the edge.  Or, rather than implying an intelligence on the part of birds to connect the dots, eggs themselves evolved by virtue of the fact that the pointy ones remained and the others became talus slope omelets.  Gradually cliff-dwelling birds laid more and more pointy eggs as those genes dominated.

But if evolution saved precariously balanced cliff eggs it couldn’t have happened overnight.  It must have taken many generations and why didn’t the species die from attrition before it managed to shape an egg-saving point?

Or did cliff-dwelling birds somehow manage to lay pointed eggs from the get-go?  That would imply a Divine purpose—a superintelligence that certainly transcends that of a bird.  A third possibility is that birds who laid pointy eggs adapted to cliffs because they had cliff-adaptable eggs.  But that implies some thought on the part of the bird.  By God, I reckon them eggs won’t roll off that ledge and I’ll for sure be safer from coons and what-all!

Or did God just think, Those eggs like you buy at Safeway just don’t get it on a cliff edge.  Reckon I’ll create a pointy egg.  Those who lean toward religion as an explanation for the miracle of life need lean no farther than this simple miracle of biological theology.   Not being a religious type, I shuffle among the head-scratchers, trying on various theories for size and discarding all as not quite convincing enough.  Eggs are miraculous, whether because of Divine origin or because they happened through serendipitousness .

Let’s suppose, as paleontologists do, that eggs evolved in the Cretaceous Period.  This is roughly 144 to 65 million years ago—considerably predating strict Biblical interpretation of Creation.  This was the heyday of the saurian which flowered in the Jurassic Period (210 million years ago to the beginning of the Cretaceous).

Supposedly dinosaurs developed self-contained eggs as a defense against an arid climate.  The amniotic fluids kept the baby dinos cozy while they matured toward hatching.

Egg-laying creatures of the sea, which to this day lay eggs in the water, did not and do not need a self-contained egg, with a shell that allows only oxygen to enter and carbon dioxide and water vapor to diffuse out.   Let’s assume that the dinosaurs evolved from sea creatures.  They abandoned their watery habitat and adapted to dry land existence…and among those adaptations was a hard-shelled egg.

Dinosaurs laid eggs much as turtles and crocodiles do today, digging a shallow nest and covering it, probably with sand.  Scientists don’t know if there was nest-building before the Cretaceous, but are sure there was during it, thanks to fossil discovery.   By the late Cretaceous, dinosaurs were brooding eggs, like big ol’ chickens, nesting in colonies and showing parental pride or at least care of the hatched young.  These developments presaged the behavior of today’s egg-laying creatures.

The Cretaceous Period also marked the end of the saurians and the experts still argue about what sent the dinosaurs into extinction.  One group believes extinction was caused by natural change on earth—volcanos, caused by shifts in tectonic plates, which erupted, clouding the sun and leading to a cold climate.  Another group believes that one or more asteroids collided with the earth, causing a great climate change that doomed the dinosaurs.

But the great saurians left behind their egg record in fossil form, and they left an evolutionary system that leads directly to today’s chicken.  So, while the chicken is the most prominent among egg-layers today, reptiles can claim credit for creating the eggshell.  Yesterday an Oviraptor crouched over a Cretaceous nest; today two over easy with country ham.

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  • August 13th, 2013

Send In The Clowns

By Joel M. Vance

They are cowardly little men with balls the size of peanuts and brains to match.   They hide behind innuendo and symbolism, too chicken to say what they believe.  And they are the example of what the country is today.

It’s coming mostly from the right wing, especially the Tea Party types who portray themselves as descendants of the Boston Tea Party rebels of Revolutionary days.   Far from true patriots, all they are is small-minded bigots with unreasoning anger directed not so subtly at black people and women.  They can’t stand the idea of a woman president and they absolutely hate the reality that we have a black president.  Anything they can do to denigrate Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama is, in their beady little brains, fair game.  By implication and association they feel that women and blacks are inferior beings.

One of two recent examples of this craven attitude is the slap Hillary “game” promoted by something called The Hillary Project (“the only thing standing between Hillary and the White House”).  As a peculiar example of their mindset, they argue that liberals didn’t complain when they had a “slap Palin” game (apparently forgetting that Sarah Palin also is a woman).

I know a man who called Jean Carnahan a bitch in a conversation with me.  Mrs. Carnahan was appointed to take over the Senate seat left vacant by her husband Mel when he died in a plane crash, yet who posthumously won election over John Ashcroft, a Republican who, as attorney general, covered the bosom of a statue of Justice.

Mrs. Carnahan, by all who know her, is a gracious lady who was beloved as Missouri’s first lady to her governor husband, and who was a very worthy successor to him.  She has been an advocate for on-site day care centers for working families, for childhood immunization, and for abuse centers, the arts, and Habitat for Humanity.  And she has written six books.  Not your average bitch.  I rarely get angry with idiot comments like that from a guy who should know better, but I did on that one.  Unfair is unfair and that’s the S.O.P. of the right wing today.  What most folks learn in childhood is “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.”  But for the right wingers it’s “if you can’t say anything nice, make up something nasty.”

The other, more recent incident, happened at the Missouri State Fair when a rodeo clown came out wearing an Obama mask and a voice on the public address system said, “…special guest: “President Obama.”  A second voice says, “We’re going to stomp Obama now.   As soon as this bull comes out, Obama, don’t you move,” the second voice said. “He’s going to getcha, getcha getcha, getcha.  Hey, I know I’m a clown, he’s just running around acting like one. Doesn’t know he is one.”

It’s a tossup as to which is more offensive—slap Hillary or stomp Obama– but they’re both symbolic of a gut-level (or perhaps testicle-level) conviction among testosterone-poisoned guys that women and black people have no business competing on an equal basis with white Anglo-Saxon rednecks and especially beating them in head-to-head contests.  To its eternal discredit, many in the crowd applauded the rodeo clown act.  Missouri is a conservative state, but there’s no excuse for behavior which equates to grade school bullying and false bravado.   To his credit, Republican Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder called for those responsible to be held accountable.

One knuckledragger tried to defend the incident by calling it merely “political satire.”  No, it isn’t.  Satire makes fun of reality and there is no fun in calling for a rodeo bull to trample the President.   There also is no reality in what the rodeo ruffians called, overt violence which is what happened to Presidents Kennedy and Reagan in modern times—disagreement with their policies which culminated in violence.  Satire is the use of sarcasm or ridicule to expose human folly and it is not the inciting of homicide, whether you consider it folly or not.  This asswipe not only needs a lesson in semantics; he needs a more intensive lesson in humanity.  He subsequently was fired, but there are plenty more like him out there, including those in the crowd who cheered.

The fact is, these incidents are Republican-dominated.  The party that once was a valued partner in politics has turned into a lynch mob.  This no longer is the party of Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt and Dwight Eisenhower.  It has driven off those of reason, whose dedication was to the good of the country.  You could disagree with them philosophically, but you didn’t conceive of slapping them or trampling them with a bull, even symbolically.

Bob Dole, the 1996 Republican candidate for President and a genuine World War Two hero, has said that Ronald Reagan, the sainted late President of the G.O.P. in today’s party climate, “… couldn’t have made it. Certainly Nixon couldn’t have made it, because he had ideas. We might have made it, but I doubt it.”  As one commentator noted in The Daily Kos, “…I get what he was trying to say, but still, when you say your party sucks so much that it sucks more than the guy who perfected the Southern strategy and became the first president ever to resign, then you must really think your party sucks.”

To give Tricky Dick his due, he was the boss when the EPA, Clean Water and Clean Air acts passed.  Today’s Republicans are mostly interested in promoting the Keystone pipeline, that ghastly slash across the nation’s gut, which almost certainly will do nothing to alleviate our oil needs and which may well doom the last remnants of sage grouse and lesser prairie chickens.

My fellow Missourian, former Republican senator John Danforth, who could not be more respected as both a legislator and a human being, said this in 2010 about his fellow senator Richard Lugar: “If Dick Lugar, having served five terms in the U.S. Senate and being the most respected person in the Senate and the leading authority on foreign policy, is seriously challenged by anybody in the Republican Party, we have gone so far overboard that we are beyond redemption.”

Lugar lost.  The Tea Party won.

There was a time when the Democratic Party was the party of bigots and racists.  I worked in Montgomery, Alabama, from 1957-59, during the heated days of racial unrest.  This was a time when George Wallace barred black student Autherine Lucy from entering the University of Alabama by physically standing in the door.  Orville Faubus did the same at Little Rock High School in Arkansas using bayonet-armed National Guardsmen to keep out a few black high school students.  Few days went by without some violence, from lynchings and church bombings to Bull Connor in Birmingham blasting Freedom Marchers with fire hoses and turning police dogs loose on them.  All these dreadful people were Democrats.

It was a Republican president, Dwight Eisenhower, who sent federal troops to enforce federal law (something that today a number of Republican states are opposing when they proclaim state authority over federal gun regulations—Missouri has gone so far as to declare any federal enforcement agents to be criminals if they try to enforce federal gun laws).   Now it is the right wing (read “Republican”) that so despises the idea of a black man as President that it is dedicated not to the good of the country, but to a campaign to get him out of office.  And the idea that he might be succeeded by a woman is doubly infuriating to these Neanderthals.

I have been lukewarm about Hillary Clinton for years, but I’m more and more coming to admire her steely determination.  She has many of the qualities of Margaret Thatcher, England’s prime minister from 1979 to 1990.  Mrs. Thatcher was a conservative and ruled with an iron hand (which occasioned her nickname of The Iron Lady).  While she and Hillary Clinton were miles apart in political philosophy they shared the same dedication to their principles and determination to prevail.   Those are the qualities of a good president.

To think that a woman isn’t strong enough to run a country is to ignore precedent.  Besides Thatcher there was Indira Ghandi in India, prime minister from 1966-84 (when she was assassinated).  And chancellor Andrea Merkel in Germany, Julia Gillard in Australia and  17 other woman national leaders, almost all elected democratically.

The 2016 election almost certainly will be poisoned by the toxic Tea Party attitudes, especially if Hillary Clinton is the Democratic nominee.  In the meantime the extreme right wing (which increasingly gobbles up those closer to the political center) will continue to savage images of their hated adversaries—if not in person at least in effigy.  Last time I saw anything like it was 1958 in Montgomery when a bunch of white guys hanged a black effigy on the street leading to the Alabama Capitol.  The cops stood by and let it happen.

Much has changed since then….but not nearly enough.

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  • August 2nd, 2013

A Veto In Time

By Joel M. Vance

In a depressing case of political self-interest over moral, ethical and legal accuracy, the Missouri Legislature, which puts the Ringling Brothers clown act to shame, is trying to overturn vetoes of two bills by Gov. Jay Nixon, one clearly un-Constitutional, the other clearly unconscionable.

One would assert state dominance over federal law; the other would remove tax exemptions from prescription drugs and erode the state’s share of public education funds, penalizing oldsters who rely on affordable medication, and youngsters who rely on education.  The latter bill is a business-friendly measure designed to put more money in the pockets of the business community at the expense of those who can least afford it.

It would institute tax cuts which would cost Missouri schools an estimated $450 million this year alone and about $260 million annually. Republicans passed and are staunch supporters of the bill which would reduce income and corporate taxes.  Several school districts, including the one that served our kids and now serves our grandchildren, would lose more than a million dollars annually.  And where do you think that education shortfall will be made up?  Fewer teachers, fewer services and inevitably poorer education.

This is the unconscionable bill.  It’s one thing to pass legislation favorable to business interests, but it’s another to do it on the backs of those who can least afford the consequences.  Prescription drug costs and co-pays have been exempt from state sales tax for more than 30 years. House Bill 253, passed in May, repeals the exemption and allows local sales tax to be applied to drugs as well. Gov. Nixon vetoed the bill on June 5.  “A bill that increases taxes on every single Missourian who takes prescription drugs by $200 million a year simply cannot be allowed to become law,” Nixon said.

The un-Constitutional bill (both laws passed by a Republican legislature) would criminalize any attempt by a federal law officer to enforce federal gun law and goes so ridiculously far as to subject any reporter who names a gun owner subject to arrest and fines.  In other words, if Missouri were to have, God forbid, a Trayvon Martin type shooting, any reporter who named the alleged shooter would become a criminal.  Likewise doctors and nurses could not be allowed to ask anyone about gun ownership.  So you shoot yourself in the foot and show up at the emergency room and presumably the on duty doctor would have to say, “Gee whiz, wonder how that bullet wound got there?  Oh, well, never mind—it’ll heal over.”

This is so clearly un-Constitutional that the Republicans who endorse the veto override admit it won’t stand up in court.  But, along with some chicken Democrats, they feel that mounting a Quixotic override campaign is politically advantageous.   Conversely, either doing nothing or voting against the bill would be political suicide in a gun happy state.  Well, I’m a lifelong gun owner, hunter and shooter who thinks this bill is clear nonsense and those who endorse it are damn fools.   And Don Quixote was nuts.

The bill would allow open carrying of weapons up to 16 inches long which pretty well defines a sawed-off shotgun and would lower the concealed carry age from 21 to 19.  Hell, why not let grade schoolers concealed carry.  They could definitively settle playground arguments and get rid of annoying teachers, assuming that those teachers haven’t been fired thanks to a lack of money.

The law is so encompassing that it declares invalid all laws that ”infringe on the people’s right to keep and bear arms as guaranteed by the Second Amendment.”  Presumably this would enable people to buy machine guns, rocket launchers and 105 mm howitzers without restrictions.  It would let convicted felons, criminally insane people or children buy guns without restriction.  There would be no waiting period on handguns or background checks, so anyone contemplating armed robbery would have no trouble obtaining the tools of his trade.  Come on, legislators.  This is insanity and not a situation visualized by the fabricators of the Second Amendment in their wildest imagination.

This doesn’t just cater to the gun lobby; it sells out to it like a bunch of cheap whores.  I love my various guns.  I have a 1913 L.C. Smith double with gorgeous stock wood.  I have a treasured 1919 Model 12 that belonged to my father, as did a single shot .22 Winchester which was his squirrel gun.  I’ve shot ducks and turkeys with the Model 12, squirrels with the .22, quail with the Smith.  I have a Model 94 Winchester .30-.30, the Gun That Won The West, with which I have killed deer.  I have a .35 caliber muzzleloader  built by my late, treasured boss Jim Keefe which I’ve killed squirrels with.  I have a .44 Colt Army revolver that belonged to my Great Grandfather in the Civil War.  It is not a hunting weapon and I have never fired it—but it’s a piece of family history and I love its elegance and meaning.

All these are cherished possessions and I would fight any attempt to outlaw, confiscate or otherwise infringe on my right to own and use them.  But the Missouri law is a prime example of legislative overkill and downright madness.  It has no basis in reality and every basis in political kowtowing and arrant stupidity.  It’s one thing to be on the side of the Second Amendment but quite another thing to treat it like a bad joke.

Both the tax cut and the gun law are in emulation of Kansas which passed similar but not as restrictive laws.  Apparently Missouri is reinstituting the Border War which flourished before the Civil War and has mainly been a source of athletic competition ever since the killing stopped.  The U.S. Justice Department already has told Kansas it will take the state to court over its law.

The Constitution, that tattered old document upon which our nation rests its increasingly shaky reputation, has been quoted, misquoted and misunderstood for more than 200 years.  The Amendments, treated as sacred parts of the Constitution, are themselves attempts to fix problems or potential problems.  They are an afterthought.  Prime among them, from my standpoint, is the First Amendment which guarantees free speech and freedom of religion (and, as many decisions have reinforced, freedom FROM religion).

The Second Amendment is the most contentious at present.  It recognizes the need for a militia—whatever that might be (Army, National Guard, police, etc.).  Does it mandate the right to keep and bear arms by all citizens under all circumstances?  It was written by folks armed with smoothbore flintlocks.  The concept of an AK-47 or other cartridge weapons was unknown and undreamed.  Times change.  We fought an internecine and incredibly bloody war to preserve the Union and the Constitution it rests on.  Generations of courts have chewed over the Constitution and its amendments, trying to read the minds of long-dead Founding Fathers, and to smooth out rough edges chafed by time.

If the Constitution were an immutable document, we’d still have slavery or at least separation of the races.   Obviously we have had to regulate the dictates of the Constitution to make sense in modern times.  We aren’t living in 1776 and we need to make that incredible document relevant to today.  But passing clearly un-Constitutional laws is not the way to do it.  It’s a waste of time, of money, of energy and of the good faith of the citizenry placed by secret ballot in its elected representatives.  For those reps to fritter away that faith with dumb legislation is a pretty sure path toward deep-sixing the democracy they say they believe in.

Gov. Nixon did that increasingly rare thing—he took a stand against a stupid law that inevitably will get him vilified by the gun lobby.  And he also took a stand against an attempt to line the pockets of political fat cats at the expense of old folks and school kids.  Hooray for him!  Too bad he’s term limited because the chances are he’ll be succeeded by some typical political hack with a Jell-O backbone.

But we should enjoy it while we can, like getting a breath of fresh air after wading through a sewage lagoon.

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