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Every once in a while I find myself with something to write about, but no real way to work myself into it.

What started me off this morning was a report about an appearance made by Chris Murphy–the junior senator from my very own state–on Rachel Maddow’s MSNBC show.

Now, a couple of things I should note before starting.

First, I tend to like Rachel Maddow, who is one of the more reasonable voices in political television.  She’s very personable, which I think went a long way to make her the only name in the line up of that ill-fated attempt to create a left-wing talk radio network with a serious career.  She’s also academically very, very impressive.

There is also a story in our house about how my younger son, first watching Maddow’s show at a very young age, and  having no idea what a “lesbian” was, decided that lesbians were “very, very happy people” and hoped that one day he could become one.

Now THAT’S a story he doesn’t like me to tell.  On the other hand, I think he was six.

The second thing is to note that I DON’T much like Chris Murphy.  I didn’t mind  him when  he was my Representative.  I even voted for him at least once. 

But the campaign he ran for Senate against Linda McMahon was just so objectionable, and so dishonest, that I ended up voting for her out of sheer reaction.  There is a limit to how much complete crap I’m willing to put up with.

On top of that, during that campaign and since, Murphy has just looked–I don’t know  how to put it.  Pasty white and slack, as if he’s ill in some way. 

I have no use for the modern mania for having politicians disclose their “health status,” and I would certainly vote for a man who shared my principles even if he had cancer or was HIV positive.

Still, Murphy looks so bad that I can’t help myself from wondering if he’s about to fall over every time I see him on screen.

I do understand that this is not relevant to what I want to discuss here.  It’s just been on my mind lately, and the effect when I’m watching him has been very strong and very odd.

Anyway, I was not watching him on the night he said this on Rachel Maddow’s show, but it’s been widely reported, so I’m going to go on the assumption that the reports are accurate.

What is he reported to have said?

He’s reported to have said that the idea that the second amendment exists in order to make sure that people can take up arms against their own government is “insane.”

“Insane” was the specific word he used.

And Rachel Maddow agreed with him.

Now, Rachel Maddow has no obligation to know what the  hell she’s doing when it comes to the history of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, but Chris Murphy has on several occasions–as a Congressman and a Senator–taken an oath of office to uphold the Constitution of the United States.

It might be a good idea if, before he took that oath, he bothered to inform  himself of the history as well as the plain text of the  Constitution he’s swearing to uphold.

Murphy and Maddow are, of course, both graduates of top-twenty universities (Willams and Stanford, respectively), but t his is not something we can blame on the Ivy League or its sister schools.

American history and government is supposed to be the  province of the high schools. 

When I was growing up in Connecticut,  it was the one thing every single school in the state was required to teach, public or parochial or private.

These days, the state wouldn’t be able to enforce the requirement on private schools that took no state money, but from what I can tell, Murphy went to a public school.

He should have been required to sit through one full year of American history (including, yes, a history of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights) and one full year of what we used to call Civics.

Now, to understand that the Second Amendment exists because men at the time of the framing were scared to death of a strong federal government and wanted to  make sure they could defend themselves against it is not the same thing as saying that you agree with the policy.

In fact, given the Civil War, I’d say that the status of that particular issue is more ambiguous than it might have been in 1789.

But that that was in fact what the amendment was for is not  in doubt and is  not ambiguous in the least. 

You can go look it up.  There’s plenty of documentation remaining–newspaper editorials, private letters, transcripts of the deliberations of the Constitutional Convention, and on and on and on and on and on–

All testifying to the fear of centralized government and demands that the states and the people retain a right to self-defense against it.

What the framers imagined, of course, was not that individual people would take up arms against the federal government, but that states would. 

What they were imagining was what came to be the Civil War, except that the Second Amendment was set up to protect the rights of the states who wanted to secede.

I was taught in school that the Civil War had changed this forever, and settled it by force.   The states did not have the right to secede.

Given the present state of the country, I’m not sure that “once and for all” is going to hold, but whether it does or not, it’s surely the job of a United States Senator, or Congressman, or President, or anybody else in this government who takes the oath to preserve and defend the Constitution to know what the Constitution says and enough about its history to know what it means.

Hell, I think it would be a good idea for you to know that much if you’re going to vote.

What’s happened to high schools in this state is even more appalling than I usded to think.

Written by janeh

May 18th, 2013 at 8:50 am

Posted in Uncategorized

6 Responses to 'Insane'

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  1. Not (just) your state, and not just lately. We have a working majority in Congress which sincerely believes that there is a “general welfare” enabling clause in the Constitution, empowering the Federal government to do anything which provides for the “general welfare.” This means our beloved masters can do ANYTHING, not specifically prohibited by the Bill of Rights, and at that pretty well nullifies the Tenth Amendment. You can’t get there by any honest reading of the Constitution.

    And of course once you’ve decided that “we” are the government, a tyrannous government is unthinkable, and armed resistance to government is either suicide or lese-majestas. This is where the doctrine of a “living Constitution” leads. It was never headed anyplace else.

    You can blame the schools, and I’m sure the schools deserve some share of the blame, but once “progressives” decided it was easier to decide the Constitution didn’t mean what it said than to amend the Constitution, and the governing class became overwhelmingly progressive, things were never going to end any other way.

    We had a good run. The Constitution as written and amended really was how we were governed down until FDR and arguably until LBJ. But it’s over now. The Constitution means whatever our rulers say it means, and empowers them to do whatever they care to do. The schools support this–I suppose you could call it “interpretation” of the Constitution, and will continue to do so. This will go on for the remainder of the time in power of our current ruling class.

    But that’s not forever either.


    18 May 13 at 10:08 am

  2. I’m no longer a US citizen but I have been wondering what happened to the 10th amendment?

    Not to mention the idea of free speech and clearly defined crimes. Both are involved in this.



    18 May 13 at 2:45 pm

  3. I was interested in Jane’s statement that she ‘… would certainly vote for a man who shared my principles even if he had cancer or was HIV positive’.

    Cynic that I am, I wonder where Jane might find someone who shares her principles, and how she would recognise such a person in the cacophony of today’s political marketplace. To be in a position to win Jane’s vote, such a person must by definition be a politician and, if experience in our Anglophone democracies over these past decades since at least World War II has demonstrated anything, it is surely that politicians in general have few if any fundamental principles, and will adopt anything that seems best suited to achieve their only aim – getting themselves re-elected. All else is negotiable.

    At a similar stage of Bush II’s presidency, the liberal media (which, here in Oz, means all but the Murdoch press) were constantly ablaze with mainly crude and defamatory opinion pieces dissecting virtually every minute of his every day. Nothing failed to attract their critical attention. Michael Moore and other liberal bottom feeders thrived.

    But today, the silence is truly deafening. In the liberal media, except for a few timid little bleats in the NYT that the Great O might be in some difficulty having crossed a line with the IRS scandal – so far invariably due to the actions or inaction of others in his administration. If it weren’t for the much reviled Murdoch media we wouldn’t even be aware that he and his minions lied, and have kept on lying even after the whistle was blown, about Benghazi, the AP thing, the now the IRS scandal to name just a few of this Administration’s crimes. As someone commented the other day, if Obama knew about these things he’s a coward, a Nixionian crook and a liar. If he didn’t know, he’s an incompetent fool.

    In this context, and this includes Australia and most if not all of the Anglosphere, I think it is inevitable, short of a bloody revolution, that we will never again regain a point where we truly have the Lincolnian ideal of government of the people, by the people, for the people. Unfortunately, I believe that it has already “perish(ed) from the earth” and that precisely because there are no longer any politicians of principle.

    I wish Jane well in her search for this mythical beast, but I’ve long since given up trying. Whatever his perceived faults might be, I wonder how many Americans will live to rue the day they rejected Romney to give Obama and his henchmen another four years to finish the job of trashing the US Constitution. I simply cannot imagine how even Sarah Palin could have been as bad, let alone worse. And, after Benghazi, if Clinton is nominated by the Democrats to succeed him, I think I’ll open a vein.


    18 May 13 at 9:13 pm

  4. I’m afraid I share Mique’s cynicism even applied to Australia. Mine dates back to an election in the 1980s. The government brought in a tax law with big cuts in the tax rates to take effect in a year. Then the Prime Minister called an election.

    During the campaign the Prime Minister was questioned about the tax cuts. He replied “Of course there will be tax cuts. Its the L-A-W”. The government was reelected and promptly repealed the cuts.


    19 May 13 at 1:39 pm

  5. changing the topic a bit, I just came across this


    Does anyone remember what the Democrats said about Reagan and Bush?


    19 May 13 at 5:09 pm

  6. And here’s the governing class to tell us that what the recent abuses of power prove is that we “need” yet more bureaucrats with greater power:


    It’s the lack of responsiveness that shows just how close to collapse the system is. Thirty years? Ten? People underestimate how quickly the end comes. As late as 1980, I thought the Soviet Union might have another 30 years.


    20 May 13 at 6:43 pm

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