Carding voters

We got our new voter registration cards a few weeks ago. The next time there’s an election, we’ll go to our new polling place, show the clerks our registration cards, get a ballot, and play one of our roles in the system of government.

The annual effort to require us to do more than that to exercise our right to vote is about to begin at the Capitol where the majority party seems to think that it’s not enough to be a registered voter and to show a registration card to the clerks on election day.  They seem to think nobody should be allowed to vote unless they also can show a government-issued identification card that has the voter’s picture on it.

The minority party says the additional requirement would adversely impact on many elderly, poor, and minority voters.  The minority party says those people are more important to it than they are to the majority party Although they don’t come right out and say it, they see the voter photo-ID legislation as another effort to undermine the political base that Democrats see as helpful (the other major effort to do that is right-to-work legislation that could curtail union membership and, therefore, funding for labor which generally supports Democrats).

[As an aside, we should note the contradictory attitude of the majority party. The Republican-led legislature in 2009 passed legislation prohibiting Missouri participation in the Homeland Security Department’s “Real ID” program. 2005. Governor Nixon signed the bill. The state has now been notified that Missourians who want to visit federal facilities can no longer use their Missouri driver’s license to identify themselves.  The policy also could mean Missourians won’t be able to use their driver’s licenses to get on an airliner. They’ll have to have some additional kind of U. S. Government photo identification such as a passport. It’s okay, therefore, for the legislature to tell Missourians they can’t vote unless they have state-issued photo ID, but it’s not okay for the federal government to tell Missourians they can’t visit federal facilities without a federally-issued photo ID.]

Back to the topic:

Republicans use phrase such as “ballot security,” or “voter fraud” to justify their positions on voter photo-ID. Democrats use phrases such as “voter suppression.”

There’s a certain irony in the Republican push to require a driver’s license or some other state-issued picture document if we want to exercise one of our most fundamental rights as United States citizens.

Republicans occupy two-thirds of the seats in the House and in the Senate through a system they have been implying is rife with voter fraud and crippled by ballot insecurity. If, however, you were to go to your state senator or your state representative (chances are that if you live outstate, that person is a member of the GOP) and ask how many fraudulent votes were cast for them in their most recent election, they’ll be unable to tell you if any fraudulent votes were cast in their districts. Or the election before that. Or before that.  Or in the decade before that.  Or the two decades before that. What could validate the majority party’s position would be notarized statements from each county clerk listing the number of fraudulent votes cast in those counties in the last, oh, twenty years, including the number of people charged by the county prosecutor with fraudulent voting.  Of course, such documents would undermine their case, too.

If the legislators won’t ask their county clerks for that information, perhaps the Missouri Association of County Clerks could assemble it for them and present the findings to the public.   Which side is on the side of the angels on this issue?  This is one of those issues where the word “transparency” is something to think about. But the operative word so far is “agenda.”

It’s been a few years (like, maybe, seventy-five or eighty) since the Pendergast political machine had thousands of ghosts voting in Kansas City.  Walter Cronkite, the great CBS newsman, recalls in his early days in broadcasting in Kansas City when the manager of his station sent him out to vote several times under several different names.

We had hoped in the years we sat at the Senate press table that the supporters of voter photo-ID would produce a list of people who had been charged in, say, the last ten years, with pretending to be someone else when they cast a ballot, or tried to cast a ballot, in state or local elections.  Just how big a problem is this?  How dangerous is this issue to the state and national civic health?  How many results at the state and local levels have been affected by voter fraud.  Just how insecure ARE our ballots?

The sponsor of the photo-ID bill told the Associated Press the election for Kinloch mayor last April justifies his bill.  Only 58 votes were cast.  The city attorney says 27 of those voters were illegally registered.  The sponsor of the bill is a smart-enough guy that he flew helicopters while he was in military service (we heard him go on at painful length about helicopters during a filibuster early one morning) and as such, he surely knows the problem with shooting at the wrong target.  In Kinloch, the problem was with people proving their identity at REGISTRATION.  And the responsibility for that issue is with the registering clerk.  If the workers at the polling place cannot trust the clerk’s certification, why even have registration?

Ask yourself as you stand in line to get a ballot whether you would rather have to wait a few minutes in a much shorter line at the clerk’s office while someone proves their identity to get a registration card or whether you would rather stand in a longer line at the polling place while an elderly polling clerk who has been on the job since 5 a.m. waits for a voter to search through pockets or purse for something other than or in addition to their voter registration card.

Under the bill, a voter who cannot produce photo-ID at the polling place can cast a provisional ballot that will only be counted if later checking verifies the person’s identity, a seemingly cumbersome process that becomes unnecessary if the registration clerk, city or county, already has certified the person with the registration card is who they say they are.

Proponents argue that we have to use photo-ID whenever we check into a motel or cash checks or use a credit card to make a large purchase or get stopped for speeding, so why shouldn’t be have to use one to vote?   Opponents will argue that checking into a motel, cashing a check, or using a credit card to make a large purchase are not rights of citizenship but are only privileges.

One side argues that the policy protects citizenship.  The other side argues it’s a barrier to many people to enjoy citizenship.  What, a cynic might ask, is a greater threat to the republic: so-called ballot insecurity, allowing Syrian refugees to come to Missouri, or letting a woman, her doctor and her own understanding of the scriptures make medical decisions?

What it comes down to is simple. The R’s and the D’s at the Capitol are playing for political advantage and the card-carrying citizens, are caught in the middle.  But that’s the penalty we pay for a free country.  About 4.2 million registered Missouri voters are at the mercy each year of 100 of the 197 people we have elected to represent us–82 in the House, 18 in the Senate, the number needed to pass bills.  And sometimes agendas trump the broader public welfare.

You’d think from the photo voter-ID annual battles that the only ones who are not frauds are the 197—who are not fettered by any statutory ethical standards.

Feeling secure?

Reading hymns

It occurred to us a few years ago as we were singing a Christmas hymn in church, reading lyrics without music that were on the screens at the front of the sanctuary, that the hymns—beautiful as they are at Christmas—are sometimes not as good as the poetry or the prose behind them.

We become so accustomed to the pace and structure of the music that the words come from us unthinkingly.   If we remove the music and the false structure it imposes on the lyrics, we might find some of our Christmas hymns have different meanings and many of them could be sung year-around.  In fact, many could be sung year-around by removing one verse.

If we read hymns instead of singing them, we might find ourselves asking questions about the story that is told in the lyrics and sometimes even wondering about the origins of those lyrics. We’re not much of a student of music but we love it, especially at this time of year, but it seems that the lyrics come first and then somebody writes music for them.

Here’s a f’rinstance.  One of the nicest, lightest, Christmas hymns begins with the words, “Bring a torch….”   I bet you hear it in your mind right now, just because of those three words.  But who is “Jeanette Isabella?”

This is an example of how singing the lyrics changes the lyrics.   In this case, the music eliminates a comma.  If you read the lyrics of the poem, which goes back about seven centuries to the Provence region of France, you see that it is about TWO girls, not one.   The original title was Un Flambeau, Jeanette, Isabelle. (We appear to have Anglicized the names of the girls.)  Various sources we’ve checked say it originally was a dance tune for the nobility and didn’t show up as a Christmas tune until 1553 and an English version of the hymn wasn’t published until the middle of the eighteenth century.

One interpretation of the lyrics links this Christmas song to the Jewish celebration of Chanukah, the eight-day festival of lights that celebrates, as, puts it “the triumph of light over darkness, of purity over adulteration, of spirituality over materiality,” a theme with which many Christians identify as they celebrate the birth of Jesus.  The website tells us, “The torches, or candles, of ancient Hanukkah’s Festival of Lights played an important part in Christmas celebrations in Provence and southern Europe,” and calls this song, “a wonderful example of the torch songs of that time.”

The New-born *oil on canvas *76 × 91 cm *1600-1652

(Musee des Beaux Arts de Rennes)

“Bring a Torch” is one of those songs that draws the participant into the beauty of the music to the extent that the words are sung but the story they tell is not appreciated.   So let’s look at the lyrics (which might be slightly different depending on your faith traditions).   We’re going to change some punctuation and some of the structure of the poem for reading-out-loud purposes.

“Bring a torch! Jeanette, Isabelle! Bring a torch!

Come swiftly– and run! Christ is born!

Tell the folk of the village (that) Jesus is sleeping in His cradle!

Then we change from excitedly telling these two young girls to grab their torches on this night and dash into the village telling the villagers to approach in haste—but quietly.  Adore the child but do not create a disturbance.  He is sleeping the sleep of the newborn.  And although the song does not refer to his mother, she also probably is resting after the strain of childbirth.

Hasten now, good folk of the village. Hasten now, the Christ Child to see. You will find Him asleep in a manger. Quietly come and whisper softly.

Ah, ah, beautiful is the mother, Ah, ah, beautiful is her Son.

Hush, hush, peacefully now He slumbers. Hush, hush, peacefully now He sleeps.

We have seen a translation of the early French lyrics that places heavier emphasis on urging villagers to not disrupt the rest of the child and his mother.  They’re harsher than the more familiar lines of the hymn.  We don’t recall singing or hearing these words but this part of the poem begins with noise and disruption.  Perhaps it is Joseph who asks, or maybe an angel–the wording is not clear.

Who is that, knocking on the door?

Who is it, knocking like that?


And someone in the crowd gathered outside answers:


Open up!

We’ve arranged on a platter lovely cakes that we have brought here!

Knock! Knock! Knock! Open the door for us!

Knock! Knock! Knock! Let’s celebrate!


We can envision Joseph cracking the door open and slipping out to confront the crowd.  Speaking in a loud whisper, he tells the villagers:


It is wrong when the child is sleeping.  It is wrong to talk so loud. Silence, now as you gather around lest your noise should waken Jesus.


And as the crowd heeds his wishes, he opens the door and reminds them as they go in:


Hush! Hush! see how he slumbers.

Hush! Hush! see how fast he sleeps!

Softly now unto the stable,

Softly for a moment come!

Look and see how charming is Jesus,

Look at him there, His cheeks are rosy!


And we hear the whispered voices of the people as they file through the room:

Hush! Hush! see how the Child is sleeping;

Hush! Hush! see how he smiles in dreams!

We still don’t know who these two girls are or were.  Perhaps the names were plucked out of the air by the original writer of the poem to fit the meter of the poem.  But the more popular version seems to rely on a painting by Georges de La Tour (1593-1652), a French Baroque artist who did a lot of religious scenes lit by candlelight.  The story behind his painting is that Jeanette and Isabella (Isabelle in the French lyrics) are milk maids who have gone to the stable to milk the cows and find Jesus has been born there.  We don’t know who tells them to light the torches and spread the good news in the village.  But we are told the custom remains in France for children to dress up as farm folks and as they go to midnight mass, they sing the song that begins, “Bring a torch….”

If you want to take the time today—if you have the time today—and you have a hymnal in your home, you might want to read some other hymns.  It might be hard because there will be the tendency to read them the way the music has them sung.  But you might find reading hymns as poetry or prose is interesting and might even add a new dimension to this day for you.

Take a look particularly at “Joy to the World” and ask yourself after reading it why this song could not be the opening hymn in worship at any time of the year.

We hope we have not spoiled your enjoyment of the music of Christmas with this little excursion that began by wondering who Jeanette Isabella was.  Remember that our word Psalms comes from a Greek word that means “instrumental music” and the words that go with it.

Let all of us, regardless of our faith tradition, hope on this day that light will prevail.

The Nineteenth Century is alive and sometimes well

–and it’s living in Missouri’s counties.

The legacy of Martin Van Buren is an overlooked part of Missouri history.  As far as we know he was never in Missouri.  He is remembered, if he is remembered at all, as a founder of the modern Democratic Party, and as the man responsible for the 1837 national depression.  He was so unpopular that he was voted out of the presidency in 1840 and spurned for his party’s nomination later.

But Van Buren County was named for him.  Not sure where Van Buren County is?  We call it Cass County today, named for Lewis Cass, who was Van Buren’s opponent for the Presidency in 1848.  Cass didn’t win the presidency either.

Kinderhook County was named for the town in which Van Buren was born.  You don’t know where Kinderhook County is?   It has been known as Camden County since 1843.

Johnson County is named for Richard M. Johnson, who was Van Buren’s vice president.

Butler County is named for Kentucky Congressman William O. Butler, who was Lewis Cass’s vice-presidential candidate.

How about Ashley County, named for St. Louis explorer, fur trade entrepreneur, and former Lieutenant Governor William H. Ashley?   Or Decatur County, named for naval hero Stephen Decatur?  Highland County?  Lilliard County, named for one of the members of the first legislature?  Or Seneca County?

Ashley County became Texas County in 1841.  Decatur has been Ozark since 1845.  Highland became Sullivan that same year.  Seneca County became McDonald County in 1847.  And Lillliard became Lafayette in 1825, the year Lafayette, the French hero of the American Revolution, visited St. Louis.

We have a peculiar situation with St. Louis, which broke away from St. Louis County in 1876, creating a strange creature that is a city not within a county but having some county offices (sheriff, for example, in addition to the city police department).

Other than the St. Louis/St. Louis County divorce in 1876, Missouri has not gained any new counties since Carter and Christian Counties were created in 1859.

Maybe it’s time for a shakeup.   Our county structures don’t make a lot of sense in a lot of places.   Twenty six places in particular.   Missouri has that many counties with fewer than ten-thousand people.  And Worth County, up along the Iowa border, has dwindled to fewer than 2,200.  In fact, the northern tier of counties in Missouri are so sparsely populated that the entire area is represented by only two state senators.  A few years ago we wrote a blog for the Missourinet about “The Senator from Everywhere,” Brad Lager, who listed his senatorial district as the counties of Andrew, Atchison, Clinton, Daviess, DeKalb, Gentry,  Grundy, Harrison, Holt, Mercer,  Nodaway, Putnam, Sullivan,  Worth and Part of Clay County.  Fourteen entire counties and part of a fifteenth.  Dan Hegeman has those counties now that Lager has been forced out by term limits.

The other half of north Missouri is represented by Senator Brian Munzlinger. His district is  Adair, Chariton, Clark,  Knox, Lewis, Linn, Macon,  Marion, Pike, Schuyler, Scotland,  Shelby, Ralls and Randolph Counties.

Two Senators represent about one-fourth of all of the counties in Missouri.

A longtime friend from college days sent me a proposal for new counties a few years ago.  Wayne Vinyard and his wife Jan ran the Longview Gardens nursery in Jackson County for many years before they retired.  Now that he doesn’t have to water the plants and fight off bugs and other pests, Wayne has had time to ruminate on the state’s nineteenth-century county structure.  He has decided to try to make more sense out of our county government system by drawing more practical boundaries for the twenty-first century.

 vineyard map

His plan creates fifty-four counties plus the city of St. Louis.  St. Louis County would be the only county to shrink.

Wayne has suggested a new name for one of the newly-formed counties.  He thinks “Arcadia” would be a nice name for an area in southeast Missouri.  But that suggestion leads to another issue.

Do we have to continue having counties named for Revolutionary War soldiers who never lived here, colleagues and opponents of Martin Van Buren, a Whig politician from England who was never in this country as far as we know, or other obscure figures?

Some of our counties’ names are….are……Well, consider these:

Christian County is named for William Christian, a Revolutionary War soldier who signed the Fincastle Resolution (???) and brokered a peace treaty between the Overmountain Men and the Overhill Cherokees (more???s). Never lived in Missouri.

Carter County is named after an early settler whose first name is, ummm, unusual.  But should someone named Zimri have a county bearing their last name?

Here’s a doozy for you:  Camden County honors someone named Pratt.   No kidding.  Charles Pratt died nine years before Missouri became American territory.  He was a Whig politician, lawyer, and judge in England.  He was the Earl of Camden.  Given some of the deep political thinkers of our present day, we’re not sure he would be county-naming fodder now.  He was, you see, an early proponent of civil liberties.  Before they were unionized.

And Andrew County?   Ohhhhhhh, my.  This one is in dispute.  One source says it was named for Andrew Jackson.  Another says it was named for Andrew Jackson Davis, a prominent St. Louis lawyer.  But we’ve turned up a third alternative that is so bizarre that it cannot possibly be true. But this is Missouri.  The third candidate is Andrew Jackson Davis, who was known as “The Poughkeepsie Seer.” He became a devotee of “animal magnetism,” which we today call hypnotism, and was an advocate of “magnetic healing.”

It is easy to dismiss a county being named for a New York spiritualist.  But then again, consider that the original name of Fulton was Volney, for Constantin Francois de Chasseboeuf, Comte de Volney, a French abolitionist, philosopher and orientalist who once wrote, “All the Egyptians have bloated faces, puffed-up eyes, flat noses, thick lips—in a word, the true face of the mulatto.”

We have wandered far afield but this is such an entertaining diversion.

Back to our topic.

From time to time there have been discussions about whether it makes any sense to have seven counties with fewer than five-thousand people (twenty-six with fewer than ten thousand).  Worth County in 1900 had 9,382 of Missouri’s 3,106,665 people or .003% of the state’s population.  Now it has .0004 of Missouri’s 5,988,927 people (2010 census figures).  Mercer County is the second-least populated county in Missouri with 3,785.  In 1900, it had 14,706.

So the question becomes whether it makes any economic, or any other kind of, sense to have counties this small or the eleven others with fewer than seven-thousand people trying to maintain county courthouses and the officials who work in them?

And haven’t we had some other heroes from Missouri since 1859 who deserve to have counties named after them instead of counties named for people who’ve never been here?  Pershing, Bradley, Lindbergh, Danforth, Symington, Virginia Minor, Betty Grable, Yogi Berra?  Visit the Hall of Famous Missourians at the Capitol someday.  You won’t find anybody there named Van Buren, Zimri, or the Earl of Camden.   And try not to think of naming a Missouri County after Bob Barker or Rush Limbaugh or Jack Buck—although renaming St. Louis County “Musial County” might be appropriate.  History shows county names are not particularly sacred. We do have a precedent for re-naming our counties.

Regardless of how much sense the Vinyard map makes, we all know that any effort to make it or something like it a reality will ignite enormous protests from the 114 kingdoms that call themselves counties.  Border-to-border turf warfare will erupt.  After all, Wayne proposes turning about sixty county courthouses into—what?  Condos?   Museums? Antique malls?  Vacant lots in the hearts of communities?   Imagine the havoc that could be created by sixty county clerks, sheriffs, assessors, collectors, nurses, and 180 county commission members who would be forced to consider processing pigs or turkeys instead of drawing a government paycheck.   Imagine going into a big-box store and being greeted by your former presiding commissioner.  It’s not a vision very many county officials would tolerate.

Perhaps our legislators in 2016, when they’re not creating new state symbols at the behest of fourth-graders, will consider modernizing Missouri’s county government system and recognizing that a county named for, say, Reinhold Niebuhr makes more sense than one named for Martin Van Buren’s vice-president.

Niebuhr?  (Rine-hold Knee-bur) He might have been this nation’s foremost twentieth-century theologian and ethicist.  He was from Wright City.  Some of his musings are particularly appropriate in today’s political climate.

“Since inequalities of privilege are greater than could possibly be defended rationally, the intelligence of privileged groups is usually applied to the task of inventing specious proofs for the theory that universal values spring from, and that general interests are served by, the special privileges which they hold.”

Or: “Man’s capacity for justice makes democracy possible, but man’s inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary.”

But the one that is best known is his Serenity Prayer.  There are various versions of it but the lines from it that are most familiar are:

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

Maybe my friend Wayne’s map represents something that cannot be changed.  But maybe it’s time for the courage to change some things that can be changed.   Or should be.

And whether it’s county boundaries or social boundaries, let us all pray that those who return to the Capitol in a couple of weeks gain the wisdom to know the difference between specious proofs and the general interest.  Wouldn’t it be nice if there could be a map for that?

Unmasking problems

We’re about six weeks past Halloween and you might think all of the Halloween stuff in stores has been put away.  But it’s surprisingly easy to still find masks.   And masks are in some demand in Jefferson City because tomorrow night (Saturday, December 12), several hundred people are going to don masks and invade the Capitol.

I’m going to be one of them, which has meant Nancy has either had to find out where there are still masks for sale or she’s going to have to make one.   She had some ideas about where to find some to consider.


One store had some basic Lone Ranger-type masks (although if the Lone Ranger showed up in the gold one or the red one, he’d probably surely be lone).  They cost twenty-five cents each so we bought four.  Now we have to wonder whether it’s worthwhile to take a dollar’s worth of cheap masks back or just keep them around for grandchildren to play with.  Grandchildren are going to win. Unless—-

Another store had two bizarre creations, one looking like some kind of a feathered iguana mask and another that is a mass of feathers that a performer might wear in some weird Las Vegas stage show.   They cost enough that returning them for a refund is practical.

A third store had the mask that seemed appropriate. We’re not going to show it to you because then people at the Caring for Missouri event tomorrow night will know who the person is in that mask.   One good thing about it is that it does not rely on a cheap elastic band that could break at any moment—which is why we bought four of the first set of masks—and it fits over glasses that are necessary because I have to read some stuff.

The event starts at 7 p.m. in the Capitol rotunda.  Tickets start at $100.  Some folks think this is a pretty snooty event.  Others see it as an important way to raise money and to increase visibility for the organizations and their causes.  All other things aside, it’s intended to be a fun event for worthwhile causes.  Let’s talk about the causes.

We’ve talked about the goals of the Missouri Capitol Commission to raise money to preserve and restore Capitol art.  Regular readers of these posts know that’s a favorite issue for your faithful scribe.  But let’s focus on the other two groups involved: The Missouri Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence and the Missouri Association for Community Action.  Frankly, dealing with art issues pales in comparison to the issues these two groups deal with every day.

Let’s start with MACA, which reminds us that 932,066 Missourians live below the federal poverty line.  A total of 417,151 peopled have incomes less than half the poverty-line level. About one-third of those people are children.  What’s the poverty line?   The federal government says a Missourian who earns less than $11,700 a year is living in poverty.  A family of four with an income of #24,200 is living in poverty.  MACA counters those who dismiss such conditions by suggesting people just go out and get jobs with this statistic: Almost thirty percent of Missouri jobs do not pay enough for the wage earner to live above the poverty line.  Thirty percent.

Almost seventeen percent of Missourians have low food security because of their earning situation. That means they have to reduce the quality, variety, and desirability of the food they eat.  Missouri is one of ten states with a food insecurity level higher than the national average, and has the sixth highest percent of food insecure households.

MACA cites government figures showing almost 7300 people are homeless in Missouri; 652 of them veterans.

When it comes to providing help to those people, MACA doesn’t really care if the Caring For Missouri Capitol Masquerade Ball is seen as a snooty event by some people.

Most of those attending the event will probably be old enough to remember when “domestic violence didn’t even have a name, let alone a legal identity,” as the Missouri Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence says on its webpage.  The Coalition recalls that rape was legal within marriage and wasn’t even a crime until the mid 90s.  There was no law allowing a judge to order an abusive husband and father to move out of the family living quarters.  Remember when reports that a husband was beating his wife were considered “family matters?”  The folks at the party were living at a time when there were no rape crisis centers, no shelters for battered women.

. There were no shelters for battered women in Missouri, no rape crisis centers, no hotlines, no task forces, no Coalition.  Missouri had no domestic violence shelters until 1976, no legal protections for domestic violence victims until 1979.  That was about the time the Coalition was created. Since then the number of domestic and sexual violence programs has increased tenfold.

The coalition, like MACA, is a presence in the Capitol during legislative sessions working for more protections for the poor and the abused.   In four decades of watching representatives of organizations like these, this observer saw nothing snooty about their work.  There was little celebration when an effort was successful because there is always another issue for the poor and the abused of Missouri.

Tomorrow night’s event will involve some food and music and a silent and not-silent (they hope) auctions of all kinds of things that we mentioned in an earlier entry here.  Some folks will be wearing formal attire. Others will be in business attire.  They’ll be dressed much better than most of the people this event is designed to help can afford to dress..

Tickets will be available at the door.  There are places where you still can buy a mask.

Got a quarter?   I’ll sell you one of mine.

Class dismissed

Your observer of the passing scene has had a year to ponder the things he witnessed in all those hours observing the Missouri Legislature from his perch in the House Press Gallery or from his seat at the press table on the Senate floor.  And he has come to the conclusion after the year away from the tumult and the shouting that one of the most regrettable trends he watched was the decline—and seeming death—of a quality we call “class.”

The thought hit home several days ago when legislative leaders decided to hold hearings to examine Missouri programs that help refugees, a decision reached after the histrionics accompanying their demands that the Governor keep Syrians from coming to our state. Governor Nixon threw a bucket of ice water on those demands, leading to the examination of what the state does with immigrants.

A legislature that still operated with at least a certain amount of “class’ would have decided to hold the hearings BEFORE trying to whip up public emotions on the subject, of course.  From what we have heard and read, the hearings would not have justified the earlier reactions.  But in an era where dignity takes a back seat to demonization, we seem to be left with those whose philosophy is heavily laced with the adage, “When in danger or in doubt, run in circles, scream and shout.”  Herman Wouk used the adage in The Caine Mutiny and said it was an ancient saying.   It’s all too current today.

In announcing the hearings, Senate President Pro Tem Ron Richard put out a statement saying, “Because of our governor’s lack of leadership and this administration’s failed federal foreign policies, we will try to find ways to protect the safety and well-being of the citizens of the Show-Me State.”

Sheesh!   Everything seems to be couched in language these days that tries to throw a kidney punch at somebody, doesn’t it?  Parents recognize the trend.

“It’s all his fault1”

“Is not”

“Is too!”

“Is not!”

Normally about this time, the adult in the room says “Stop it!” and threatens to send people to their rooms until they can behave in a civil manner.

Unfortunately, there appears to be a noticeable lack of adults when it comes to modern politics.  “Class” is one of the casualties of the presence of term limits and absence of high ethical standards.

We dislike wallowing in nostalgia because nostalgia often recalls an unrealistic picture.  But there WERE days when people in government could do things without being so dang-nabbed disagreeable.  Of course, that was back in the days before term limits when legislators had time to grow up.  And when there were adults in the room who could help them do it.

Maybe it will dawn on some people someday that Lord of the Flies is not a political textbook.