Published Wednesday, January 23, 2013 @ 1:10 AM EST
...and why Texas textbooks are replacing his many contributions and
observations with references to St. Thomas Aquinas and John Calvin:
Some men look at constitutions with sanctimonious reverence, and deem
them like the arc of the covenant, too sacred to be touched. They
ascribe to the men of the preceding age a wisdom more than human, and
suppose what they did to be beyond amendment. I knew that age well; I
belonged to it, and labored with it. It deserved well of its country. It
was very like the present, but without the experience of the present;
and forty years of experience in government is worth a century of
book-reading; and this they would say themselves, were they to rise from
the dead. I am certainly not an advocate for frequent and untried
changes in laws and constitutions. I think moderate imperfections had
better be borne with; because, when once known, we accommodate ourselves
to them, and find practical means of correcting their ill effects. But I
know also, that laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the
progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more
enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths disclosed, and
manners and opinions change with the change of circumstances,
institutions must advance also, and keep pace with the times. We might
as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a
boy, as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their
barbarous ancestors. =letter to Samuel Kercheval from Thomas
Jefferson, June 12, 1816
KGB Report welcomes you to 2013: May this arbitrary, transient point in
your solipsistic sense of the space-time continuum delineate the
initiation of a series of random events which trend in a manner which
you perceive to be favorable.
Published Saturday, December 15, 2012 @ 7:00 AM EST
Happy Bill of Rights Day, commemorating the ratification of the first
ten Amendments to the United States Constitution on this day in 1791.
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt first declared its annual observance
on December 15, 1941.
Should unfortunate circumstances place you in the presence of someone
pontificating on the manner in which the first and especially the second
amendment really should be interpreted, do what I do. Ask the
delusional pedant to recite all ten Amendments.
"You can't? Gee, a real Constitutional scholar, ain'tcha Skippy?"
There are really only two small sections of the Unites States
Constitution that I've memorized. There's the last part of Article VI:
"...no religious Test shall ever be required as a
Qualification to any Office or public trust under the United States."
The emphasis is mine, and identifies the only place in the entire
document where the word "ever" appears. This is handy when dealing with
those who refuse to acknowledge the founders' intent to keep religion
and government separate. I mean, what part of "ever" don't you
And I also know the Preamble.
Boy, do I know the Preamble.
I recited it for a Veterans Day program in Homestead's Frick Park in
1962. I remember it was cold, and I was wearing my Cub Scout uniform.
And I didn't make any mistakes, because I had been studying it, living
with it, for an entire month.
I learned the Preamble from Margaret McGeever, the principal of my
elementary school. And when Margaret McGeever taught you something, you
not only memorized it, mastered it, and could recite it on command, you
assimilated it into your very DNA structure. It left a virtual,
indelible mark on your psyche, not unlike the actual physical hand print
of hers that I still have on my left shoulder, a result of The Bell
Telephone Movie Incident In The Auditorium.
Miss McGeever not only principaled, she taught drama. She emphasized
that the Preamble was not a jumble of words to be hurriedly recited in a
dull monotone. It had to be read correctly, with a combination of zeal,
reverence and perfect enunciation. "This is the very foundation of who
we are," she rumbled in her high-pitched yet gravelly voice. "Just
fifty-two words that define who we are."
And I learned them. Really learned them. I spent a half hour
every day finding the words in the huge dictionary in her office and
transferring their definitions to sheets of blue-ruled white bond paper,
the good stuff we used when taking our penmanship tests.
It took me more than a week. She looked through the sheets. She stacked
them, placed her folded hands on the neat pile, then gazed at me over
the top of her glasses.
I froze. It was not the look of satisfaction I had expected.
Her brow was furrowed. Actually, it was always furrowed; the
woman had the forehead of a Shar Pei. But the creases were even deeper,
and her voice was sharp.
"Mister Barkes," she intoned. "Your work is not acceptable. You have
forgotten one very important word: Preamble. You've managed to omit the
title of the work."
I looked at the copy of the Constitution I held in my pudgy, shaking
hands. I didn't see the word "preamble" anywhere.
"You won't see the word 'preamble' anywhere," Miss McGeever said, which
was simultaneously comforting and terrifying. "I don't see your name
written anywhere on your body, but I know who are, and if I were to
write about you, I would certainly put your name at the beginning."
"Preamble," she said. "An introduction. From the Latin 'pre', meaning
'before', and 'ambulare', to walk. Literally, to walk before, or to
lead. 'Ambulare' is interesting. So many English words are derived from
Latin. What English words come from 'ambulare'?"
"Ambulance?" I asked. She nodded. "Amble?" She nodded again.
I was blank. "Do you know what they call baby strollers in England?,"
"Prams?" I replied. "Right. Pram is English slang for perambulator.
'Per' from the Latin through or for, and 'ambulator' from..."
"Ambulare!" This was fun.
Miss McGeever spent the next half hour listing Latin antecedents
("ante-", before; "cedere", to go) for English words. I was sorry when
the end of day bell sounded.
"I'll tell Miss Sullivan she has a prospective Latin student," she said,
smiling. Miss Sullivan taught first year Latin in ninth grade at the
junior high school.
Then the smile disappeared. The stack of Preamble words reappeared.
"Review them. We'll have a verbal quiz on Monday."
Wait. Where was I?
Wow. I hate when I have one of those Billy Pilgrim unstuck in time
Right. The Constitution.
There are a lot of people who say the Constitution has but one purpose:
to restrict the federal government and limit its power. Anything not
explicitly covered within its original 4,543 words and subsequent
amendments should not even be considered.
I think they're missing the big picture. Miss McGeever explained it
quite well. I remember her florid cursive writing on the blackboard:
Who are "We"? The people of the United States of America.
What do we want? We want to:
1. Form a more perfect Union. (The Articles of Confederation just
2. Establish justice.
3. Insure domestic tranquility.
4. Provide for the common defense.
6. Promote the general Welfare.
7. Secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.
(We're serious about this.)
How are we going to do this?
We do ordain (from the Latin ordinare, to arrange or order) and
establish (from the Latin stabilire, to make stable) this
Constitution (from the Latin constituo, to confirm, arrange,
decide) of the United (L. unus, one, a union) States (L. status,
fixed, set) of America.(Mod.L. Americanus, after Amerigo
Sometimes I think this guy must have been one of Miss McGeever's
students. And after this past election, I know how he feels:
...when "satire" in The Onion
is about the only honest, objective view you'll get of this abysmal
Sadly, Nation Knows Exactly How Colorado Shooting's Aftermath Will
(The Onion, July 20, 2012)
WASHINGTON-Americans across the nation confirmed today that,
unfortunately, due to their extreme familiarity with the type of tragedy
that occurred in a Colorado movie theater last night, they sadly know
exactly how the events following the horrific shooting of 12 people will
While admitting they "absolutely hate" the fact they have this
knowledge, the nation's 300 million citizens told reporters they can
pinpoint down to the hour when the first candlelight vigil will be held,
roughly how many people will attend, how many times the county sheriff
will address the media in the coming weeks, and when the town-wide
memorial service will be held.
Additionally, sources nationwide took no pleasure in confirming that
some sort of video recording, written material, or disturbing
photographs made by the shooter will be surfacing in about an hour or
"I hate to say it, but we as Americans are basically experts at this
kind of thing by now,” said 45-year-old market analyst Jared Gerson,
adding that the number of media images of Aurora, CO citizens crying and
looking shocked is “pretty much right in line with where it usually is
at this point." "The calls not to politicize the tragedy should be
starting in an hour, but by 1:30 p.m. tomorrow the issue will have been
politicized. Also, I wouldn't be surprised if the shooter's high school
classmate is interviewed within 45 minutes."
"It's like clockwork," said Gerson, who sighed, shook his head, and
According to the nation's citizenry, calls for a mature, thoughtful
debate about the role of guns in American society started right on time,
and should persist throughout the next week or so. However, the populace
noted, the debate will soon spiral out of control and ultimately lead to
nothing of any substance, a fact Americans everywhere acknowledged they
felt "absolutely horrible" to be aware of.
With scalpel-like precision, the American populace then went on to
predict, to the minute, how long it will take for the media to swarm
Aurora, CO, how long it will take for them to leave, and exactly when
questions will be raised as to whether or not violence in movies and
video games had something to do with the act.
The nation's citizens also confirmed that, any time now, some religious
figure or cable news personality will say something unbelievably
insensitive about the tragic shooting.
"Unfortunately, I've been through this a lot, and I pretty much have it
down to a science when President Obama will visit Colorado, when he will
meet with the families of those who lost loved ones, and when he will
give his big speech that people will call 'unifying' and 'very
presidential,'" Jacksonville resident Amy Brennen, 32, said, speaking
for every other person in the country. "Nothing really surprises me when
it comes to this kind of thing anymore. And that makes me feel terrible."
"Oh, and here's another thing I hate I know," Brennen continued, "In
exactly two weeks this will all be over and it will be like it never
We’re going to start a new country, where upward mobility and education doesn’t make us the
elites, it restores the American dream- and all of us accepted. And you know what we’re going
to call it? "America Classic." - Elayne Boosler
Again, one must ask- why are the clearest, most direct interviews
performed by a comedian on a fake news show?
Stewart probes Huckabee's support of radical evangelical minister and
discredited historian David Barton, who claims- despite incontrovertible
evidence to the contrary- that the Founders intended the United States
to be a Christian theocracy. Stewart also questions why Huckabee- who is
always reasonable and self-effacing during his Daily Show
interviews- promotes Barton's extreme ideas when addressing his
This is part three of three of the interview; consider watching them
all. It's one of Stewart's- and Huckabee's- best efforts.
It also features two Stewart observations that made it to my quote
"As someone who is not Christian, it is hard for me to believe
Christians are a persecuted people in America... maybe, God willing, one
of you will rise up and get to be President of this country; or maybe 44
in a row."
"We need religion to give grace and comfort to a world torn apart by
"The Republicans now control the House, and they say they're going to
follow a strict interpretation of the original Constitution. So I hope
you women and non-whites don't like voting." -Jimmy Kimmel
"Congress was broadcast live on Facebook for the first time in history.
Now you can waste time and not get work done by watching Congress waste
time and not get work done." -Jimmy Fallon
"The new Congress has been sworn in. To politicians the oath of office
is like a New Years resolution to the rest of us. You try for a week or
two and then say screw it." -Jay Leno
"Thousands of birds fell dead in Arkansas. It's either al-Qaida, or Dick
Cheney is hunting again." -David Letterman
"Why is it no human being can withstand more than two years as a
presidential press secretary? There must be an organ somewhere in the
body that can only filter two years worth of heavy duty bullsh*t." -Jon
Stewart on Robert Gibbs' retirement
"The new Republican-controlled House of Representative decided to start
things off by reading the entire Constitution aloud. They took turns
each reading a part of the Constitution. Then there was a break for
lunch and a slave auction." -Jimmy Kimmel
"Now that the Republicans have taken over the House, they're going to
undo everything President Obama has done. John Boehner even told the
Obama kids that the dog has to go back." -David Letterman
"Outgoing Speaker Nancy Pelosi gave a speech and handed the gavel to
John Boehner. Very emotional moment for Pelosi, but she managed to keep
a stiff upper lip, a tightly stretched forehead, and unnaturally arched
eyebrows." -Jay Leno
"The last speaker, Nancy Pelosi has a frozen face and John Boehner has
an orange face. If you put them together, you've got the Creamsicle of
the House." -Jimmy Kimmel
"The commander of the USS Enterprise was relieved of duty because of his
involvement in making raunchy videos while onboard the Navy ship. The
good news: Today he was offered a job as a producer on 'Jersey Shore.'" -Jay
"This weekend in Arkansas, thousands of dead birds dropped out of the
sky and there were 100,000 dead fish in the rivers. Also, McDonald's is
having a special on Chicken McNuggets and Filet of Fish." -Jay
"Christine O'Donnell is being investigated for using campaign funds to
pay for personal expenses. I think it's a witch hunt." -Jay
"Snooki is now a published author. I'm blaming Sarah Palin . She lowered
the bar." -David Letterman
David Letterman's "Top Ten Things Overheard During The Republicans'
First Day In Charge Of The House" 10. "Mr. Boehner, please stop
crying" 9. "How do we blame this dead bird thing on Obama?" 8.
"I think he was just sworn in on a copy of Snooki's new book" 7.
"Beer me!" 6. "Alright, you've had six hours, is the
economy fixed?" 5. "Speaker Boehner, please stop blowing your
nose" 4. "When is vacation?" 3. "No, Sen. McCain,
Woodrow Wilson doesn't work here anymore" 2. "When do we get to
sleep with the pages?" 1. "How soon can we go back to invading
countries for oil?"
Published Thursday, November 11, 2010 @ 12:24 AM EST
If you should to see this happening at an airport, don't stand mute and
permit the seemingly never-ending assault on our rights to continue. Do what I plan
to do. While in a location where it would take a few seconds for a TSA
agent to reach you, drop your pants, whip off your shirt and
undergarments, and scream "I'm an American guaranteed Fourth Amendment
Rights by our Constitution, and I'm Opting Out." While this might not be
an approach that's equally effective for everyone, believe me: I will
I should note that to this point I've never challenged any demands made
of me by airport security, regardless of their absurdity and intrinsic
worthlessness as effective security measures. I've been questioned,
asked to remove items from my baggage, wanded, and body
scanned by the generally polite TSA folk without incident.
But what TSA is doing now is reprehensible. These scare tactics of
overkill, and the blatant, willful disregard of our basic rights as
citizens, are profoundly wrong and should not be tolerated by anyone who
considers himself and American.
To quote actor and former National Rifle Association president, the late Charleton
"Well, the answer's been here all along. I learned it 36 years ago, on
the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C., standing with Dr.
Martin Luther King and two hundred thousand people."
"You simply disobey. Peaceably, yes. Respectfully, of course.
"But when told how to think or what to say or how to behave, we don't.
We disobey the social protocol that stifles and stigmatizes personal
There is something fundamentally wrong in a society that allows people
to carry concealed weapons into Starbucks but harasses attractive young
women and grandmas in wheelchairs just because they make perfect
participants in the theater of the absurd that TSA calls "security."
In the mid to late 90s, the Internal Revenue Service was the object of
Congressional hearings when the agency engaged in egregious and
reprehensible activities "for the greater good." Congress stopped the
IRS' Gestapo-like tactics in short order after they were exposed. It's
time for them to do it again. Stop this insult to our rights and our
basic dignity. Now.
Write the President. Write your Senator and Congressman. If you or a
friend are insulted or assaulted by TSA and/or local police at the
airport, do what we Americans do best: bitch, at the top of your lungs,
to everyone and anyone in authority. Make a scene. Get as many witnesses
as possible. Get as much information as possible and contact the American
Civil Liberties Union.
Don't interfere or disrupt normal screening processes. But if TSA
decides to make you the star of their little security pageant, by God,
make the performance a memorable one.
This is America, folks. Our service men and women are making supreme
sacrifices overseas to guarantee our freedom. Let's do our part by
defending the Constitution here at home as well.
Published Monday, September 20, 2010 @ 7:08 AM EDT
"I've covered politics for a long, long time, but this is the first time
witchcraft has ever come into it." -Bob Schieffer, host of
CBS' "Face the Nation", on Christine O'Donnell's candidacy for the
Article VI, paragraph 3 of the U.S. Constitution states, "The Senators
and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several
State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the
United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or
Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall
ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under
the United States."
The "no religious test" clause of the Constitution is pretty clear; it's
the only time the word "ever" appears in the document. Which means, as
strange as it may seem, that O'Donnell's "dabbling" should not be an
issue in her campaign.
As far has her being an unqualified Looney Tune who appears to live in a
demented reality of her own creation... well, have at it.
And thanks, Delaware Republicans, for giving the Democrats the senate
seat in November.