Again: “…Compulsory unification of opinion achieves only the unanimity of the graveyard…”


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Along U.S. 50 Highway in west central Missouri:

Someone’s opinion.

In 1943, in a time of war, no less:



….To sustain the compulsory flag salute we are required to say that a Bill of Rights which guards the individual’s right to speak his own mind, left it open to public authorities to compel him to utter what is not in his mind.

Whether the First Amendment to the Constitution will permit officials to order observance of ritual of this nature does not depend upon whether as a voluntary exercise we would think it to be good, bad or merely innocuous. Any credo of nationalism is likely to include what some disapprove or to omit what others think essential, and to give off different overtones as it takes on different accents or interpretations. If official power exists to coerce acceptance of any patriotic creed, what it shall contain cannot be decided by courts, but must be largely discretionary with the ordaining authority, whose power to prescribe would no doubt include power to amend. Hence validity of the asserted power to force an American citizen publicly to profess any statement of belief or to engage in any ceremony of assent to one presents questions of power that must be considered independently of any idea we may have as to the utility of the ceremony in question….


….Struggles to coerce uniformity of sentiment in support of some end thought essential to their time and country have been waged by many good as well as by evil men. Nationalism is a relatively recent phenomenon but at other times and places the ends have been racial or territorial security, support of a dynasty or regime, and particular plans for saving souls. As first and moderate methods to attain unity have failed, those bent on its accomplishment must resort to an ever-increasing severity. [319 U.S. 624, 641] As governmental pressure toward unity becomes greater, so strife becomes more bitter as to whose unity it shall be. Probably no deeper division of our people could proceed from any provocation than from finding it necessary to choose what doctrine and whose program public educational officials shall compel youth to unite in embracing. Ultimate futility of such attempts to compel coherence is the lesson of every such effort from the Roman drive to stamp out Christianity as a disturber of its pagan unity, the Inquisition, as a means to religious and dynastic unity, the Siberian exiles as a means to Russian unity, down to the fast failing efforts of our present totalitarian enemies. Those who begin coercive elimination of dissent soon find themselves exterminating dissenters. Compulsory unification of opinion achieves only the unanimity of the graveyard.

It seems trite but necessary to say that the First Amendment to our Constitution was designed to avoid these ends by avoiding these beginnings. There is no mysticism in the American concept of the State or of the nature or origin of its authority. We set up government by consent of the governed, and the Bill of Rights denies those in power any legal opportunity to coerce that consent. Authority here is to be controlled by public opinion, not public opinion by authority.

The case is made difficult not because the principles of its decision are obscure but because the flag involved is our own. Nevertheless, we apply the limitations of the Constitution with no fear that freedom to be intellectually and spiritually diverse or even contrary will disintegrate the social organization. To believe that patriotism will not flourish if patriotic ceremonies are voluntary and spontaneous instead of a compulsory routine is to make an unflattering estimate of the appeal of our institutions to free minds. We can have intellectual individualism [319 U.S. 624, 642] and the rich cultural diversities that we owe to exceptional minds only at the price of occasional eccentricity and abnormal attitudes. When they are so harmless to others or to the State as those we deal with here, the price is not too great. But freedom to differ is not limited to things that do not matter much. That would be a mere shadow of freedom. The test of its substance is the right to differ as to things that touch the heart of the existing order.

If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein. If there are any circumstances which permit an exception, they do not now occur to us….



On “patriotic” pearl clutching (August 28, 2016)

“…Compulsory unification of opinion achieves only the unanimity of the graveyard…” (September 24, 2017)

Rep. Vicky Hartzler (r): jump on that publicity stunt bandwagon (October 8, 2017)

Gov. Eric Greitens (r): high or petty (October 11, 2017)

HB 1528: micromanagement


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Representative Dean Dohrman (r) [2016 file photo].

A bill, prefiled on Wednesday:

HB 1528
Requires students at public and private institutions of higher education to pass an examination on the provisions and principals of American civics as a condition of graduation
Sponsor: Dohrman, Dean (051)
Proposed Effective Date: 8/28/2018
LR Number: 5087H.01I
Last Action: 12/06/2017 – Prefiled (H)
Bill String: HB 1528

Who’s going to pay for this new unfunded mandate?

The bill text, as prefiled:

HOUSE BILL NO. 1528 [pdf]

To amend chapter 170, RSMo, by adding thereto one new section relating to the Missouri higher education civics achievement examination.

Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the state of Missouri, as follows:

Section A. Chapter 170, RSMo, is amended by adding thereto one new section, to be 2 known as section 170.013, to read as follows:

170.013. 1. Any student pursuing an associate’s or bachelor’s degree from a public or private institution of higher education, except those attending private trade schools, shall successfully pass an examination on the provisions and principles of American civics with a score of seventy percent or greater as a condition of graduation from such institution. The examination shall be known as the “Missouri Higher Education Civics Achievement Examination”.
2. The examination required under this section shall consist of at least fifty questions, but shall not exceed one hundred questions, and shall be similar to the one hundred questions administered to applicants for United States citizenship by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services division of the Department of Homeland Security. Subject matter on the examination shall include the United States Constitution, the United States Bill of Rights, governmental institutions, historical manifestations of federalism, and history of constitutional interpretation and amendments.
3. The examination required under this section may be included within any other examination that is administered on the provisions and principles of the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the state of Missouri, and in American history and American institutions, as required in subsection 3 of section 170.011.
4. Institutions of higher education may use online testing to comply with the provisions of this section.

I could be good with this if the members of the Missouri General Assembly had to take and pass the same test before they could be sworn in. But we should expect a higher passing score from them, right?

HB 1474: once again, this time with feeling


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Representative Rick Brattin (r) [2013 file photo].

A bill on higher education prefiled yesterday by Representative Rick Brattin (r):

HB 1474
Eliminates tenure for new employees at public institutions of higher education and specifies information that public institutions of higher education must make available to the public
Sponsor: Brattin, Rick (055)
Proposed Effective Date: 8/28/2018
LR Number: 4356H.01I
Last Action: 12/05/2017 – Prefiled (H)
Bill String: HB 1474

Some of the text:


To repeal section 173.1004, RSMo, and to enact in lieu thereof two new sections relating to public institutions of higher education.

Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the state of Missouri, as follows:

Section A. Section 173.1004, RSMo, is repealed and two new sections enacted in lieu 2 thereof, to be known as sections 173.940 and 173.1004, to read as follows:
173.940. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, no public institution of higher education in this state shall award tenure to any person who is hired by such institution for the first time on or after January 1, 2019. The provisions of this section shall not apply to employees hired prior to January 1, 2019.

Why, this seems rather punitive in nature.

It appears that any understanding of the concept of faculty tenure and the implications for faculty recruitment and shared governance escape the representative. He should, perhaps, bother to ask someone who does.

Rep. Brattin is a 1999 graduate of Lee’s Summit High School.

Well, that could explain some of it.

Rep. Vicky Hartzler (r): let them not eat cake


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Representative Vicky Hartzler (r) [2016 file photo].

Today, from Representative Vicky Hartzler (r), via Twitter:

Rep. Vicky Hartzler‏ @RepHartzler
It was an honor to speak on behalf of religious freedom and Masterpiece Cake Shop’s Jack Phillips this morning at the #SCOTUS #JusticeforJack rally.
8:39 AM – 5 Dec 2017

Nice touch there, using an image of Martin Luther King, Jr. to promote bigotry.

And, of course, some of the responses do not disappoint:

I love her thoughtful, heartfelt canned auto replys…makes me feel so special & I know my voice is being heard! #sarcasm

You’re the worst Vicky Hartzler.

In which Rep Hartzler spends more time trying to legalize discrimination than she does having face-to-face meetings with her constituents.

You are a comically terrible representative for Missouri.

It would be great if you spent half as much time championing the Missourians you theoretically work for as you do a baker in Colorado.

How sad that you feel honored to defend hate! Your hate is not based on the teachings of Jesus. Sad.

You must not be a biblical scholar. It’s all there in the book of Republicanonican

I am. However, I thought this hate is found in the book of Midas. You know the one that says “blessed are the rich for they are rich and job givers and have paid their way into heaven.”

omg they’re using mlk to support discrimination i am screaming

Are you kidding me???

Yeah, we noticed that, too.

Don’t you dare use MLK’s photo in this bullshit.

A bigot surrounded by bigots. This is unamerican.

You’re Free to practice your religion but NOT to impose your religion on society [….]

1) your constituents are in MO-4
2) why do you support bigotry?

We get it, you’re a bigot.

Your bio says ‘serve the hardworking Missourians’. But just the straight ones, right?

It was an honor to be a bigot? Because that’s exactly what you are.

Vile woman.

I’ve got a new campaign slogan for you– Homophobic Hater Hartzler from Harrisonville! Why don’t you spend your time helping fellow Missourians instead of a gay hater in Colorado? I really resent you spending my tax dollars this way. You truly sicken me!!! NO Vicky in 2018

And Jesus wept! Do you support all religious freedoms or only those of Christianity? America is not just a Christian nation. Freedom of Religion is for all religions or those that choose not to believe.


It would be even better if you learned how to give a shit about America being destroyed from within by a Kremlin Puppet. But nooooo, gotta keep those fake Christian values front & center.

My other question is why are you out there with a homophobe when you should be at your job trying to help fix the tax bill?

Good question, but you didn’t really need to ask to get an answer.

Roy Blunt uses the GOP tax bill to give a Christmas present to his lobbyist son


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Most Americans, even conservative Americans whether or not they admit it, know that the big tax cut Christmas gift President Moron has promised will be delivered directly to the fat cats who support the GOP, while the gifts the GOP pretends to be giving most other Americans will metamorphose into gigantic lumps of coal either immediately or by 2027 when the crumbs tossed to the hoi polloi will vanish into the realm of Christmas past. The easy – and true – explanation is that the Republicans who preach fiscal responsibility were long ago purchased by the beneficiaries of a system that increases the growing inequality among Americans.

However, the extent to which some GOP pols are indulging in a little personal gift-giving on the side has been mostly ignored. As an article in The Intercept makes clear, some elected Republicans have used the tax cut baloney to enhance their or their families’ bottom lines – and one of the most notable examples is Missouri’s own always-on-the-take politician, Roy Blunt:

The tax plan before Congress, though sold as broad legislation to reduce rates and end favoritism in the tax code, contains targeted provisions designed to benefit special interest groups, many of which maintain close ties to senior Republican lawmakers.

Take the special tax cut for the alcohol industry hidden in the bill.

The tax cut legislation includes a provision that cuts taxes on beer, wine, and liquor produced or imported into the country, saving companies involved around $4.2 billion over 10 years. The provision mirrors language from the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act, or S. 236, introduced by Sen. Roy Blunt, a Republican from Missouri and a member of the Senate GOP leadership team. (While the legislation does benefit craft, or small breweries, it extends the cuts to larger companies and the industry as a whole.)

Key GOP lawmakers maintain close ties to individuals connected to the booze industry.

Sen. Blunt’s son Andy Blunt is a registered lobbyist for MillerCoors, a brewing company that has worked to build support on Capitol Hill for the exact same targeted brewer tax cuts now included in the tax bill. …

For the record, Arizona GOP Sen. John McCain, whose wife’s fortune comes from Hensley Brewing and Sen. Ron Portman, who has close ties to a lobbying firm that represents the industry, are also implicated as per The Intercept. Might go a long way to explaining why McCain, who objected to the procedure used to concoct and attempt to force passage of the ill-fated Republican healthcare demolition effort, was far more obliging this time around. It seems that procedure can be damned as long as the sweeteners are liberally bestowed.

Meanwhile, back at the working folks’ ranch, the Community Oncology Alliance warned Congress that the tax cut bill will mandate a huge cut in Medicare spending:

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has warned that “pay-as-you-go” rules require a 4% sequester cut to Medicare to offset the deficit increases triggered in the current tax bill. This would double the ongoing 2% sequester cut to Medicare payments implemented when Congress was unable to solve the nation’s budget deficit in 2011.

Policymakers in Washington should note that blunt budget cutting gimmicks like the sequester cut backfire. They have terrible unintended consequences and do more harm than good for patients and taxpayers. According to the 2016 Community Oncology Practice Impact Report, in the five years since the last Medicare sequester went into effect, 91 cancer treatment clinics have closed and 130 independent community cancer practices, typically comprised of multiple treatment sites, have been forced to merge into hospitals.

Community oncology practices are where the majority of Americans with cancer are treated. Closing them creates problems with access to cancer care and consolidation into more expensive hospital systems, driving up costs for seniors with limited mobility and fixed incomes, as well as all taxpayers who fund Medicare. The actuarial firm Milliman found that the consolidation of independent community cancer practices with hospitals cost Medicare and taxpayers $2 billion in 2014 alone. In addition, Medicare beneficiaries responsible for the 20% copayment saw their bills rise by $500 million in that same year.

As a person suffering from chronic cancer, I owe my survival over the past few years to Medicare and my excellent Medicare supplement. Now, however, since the barbarians have stormed the gates of Washington and the looting has started, I can’t helping wondering how long it can last – which is another way of asking how long I can last. I also know that I’m not in the worst position among my fellow-suffers – who won’t have to worry about what is going to happen because there’s only one answer: treatment will definitely soon be put out of reach for them if this bill in finally enacted. It’ll be a grim December for lots of us.

But hey, we can be sure that it’ll be a jolly Christmas in the Blunt family home. Sen. Blunt will have contributed to a “major victory for hardworking Missourians,” by his own account. And he may not be entirely dishonest. Andy Blunt is a Missourian and I’m sure that it’s possible that he’s truly a hard-working lobbyist. And there are probably a few more like him.

HB 1434: the point is moot


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A bill, prefiled today.

HB 1434
Modifies provisions relating to marriage and replaces marriage licenses with contracts of domestic union
Sponsor: Berry, T.J. (038)
Proposed Effective Date: 8/28/2018
LR Number: 4662H.01I
Last Action: 12/04/2017 – Prefiled (H)
Bill String: HB 1434

This has already been argued and decided.

Give it a rest.


Marriage Equality in America (June 26, 2015)

Recorders Association of Missouri: issuing marriage licenses for same sex couples in Missouri (June 26, 2015)

Rep. Vicky Hartzler (r): the thrill is gone


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Representative Vicky Hartzler (r) [2016 file photo].

Yesterday morning from Representative Vicky Hartzler (r), via Twitter:

Rep. Vicky Hartzler‏ @RepHartzler
Thrilled to wake up to the news that the Senate passed #taxreform. Looking forward to working together on the final bill. #SaturdayMorning
5:40 AM – 2 Dec 2017 from Harrisonville, MO

Some of the responses:

Most of the people you represent are NOT thrilled. Try listening to all of us

I will be thrilled when you are out of office

Does it not bother you, at all, that so many people, including real economists and not just fake Twitter economists, AREN’T thrilled?

We, of mid Missouri, pledge to work towards your defeat next fall. Your worldview and political ambitions represent such a small portion of humanity. You fears and superstitions, your recklessness with history make you a dangerous footnote in future civics textbooks.

You’re going to have to work together to make an awful lot of improvements, because this bill is garbage right now. I’m glad you admit to being thrilled about screwing over your constituents so they know where your interests really are

You won’t be so thrilled the day after the 2018 elections.

I’m looking forward to supporting your opponent.

I guess you’re looking forward to writing more taxes cuts for the rich. All of Missouri looks forward to 2018 when you are voted out. Adios!

Are you working for the American people? Are you working for your donors or the lobbyist? I have not heard anyone from the middle-class thinking that this is a good idea. Shame shame

I will bet. Lovely that we get to deduct those pesky private jet expenses & how bout the way we screwed those public school teacher leeches? #TeamPlutocracy

Bad bad bad. Like a bad 80’s dream. #TaxPlanScam

Thrilled?? When you blow up the deficit, how long will it be before you come for Social Security and Medicare???

Your happiness comes at the expense of so many others who you are supposed to “represent”.

Enjoy your moment. I’m looking forward to mine on the morning after Election Day when we vote you out of the house

I love reading about all the deductions I’m losing on my teachers salary. According to Brookings, my taxes would go up. Yep…so “happy” about that.

You might be. It serves you awfully well. No one else does. Well, no one who isn’t in Congress or the top 1% anyway.

No one else is.

When are you having a town hall so we can express our disdain face to face?

If she couldn’t face us before this, no way will she now. #heartlesshartzler

Nope, no thrill there.