Staying in bounds

An open letter to Sens. Cornyn and Cruz and Rep. Flores:

Although delegated to the states under privileges and immunities of citizens, freedom of movement has been considered a Constitutional “right” since 1869. Even though no one could envision the power and ubiquity of the modern automobile in facilitating movement of citizens, the stage was set for establishing boundaries in this freedom for the common good and safety of all citizens. So on behalf of such common good, rules have been set (by government) for how one exercises ownership and operation of a motor vehicle and the conditions under which such ownership and operation may be denied.

I suspect that the framers of our Constitution could not likewise envision the power and ubiquity of the “arms” that citizens might be able to “keep and bear” in the future. Likewise, it is high time that the government establish boundaries for the common good and safety of all citizens when it comes to ownership and use of guns in the U.S. Only a fool or despot would propose the banning of all weapons by its citizens in a democracy, but the time is long overdue to look at common sense boundaries for gun ownership and use. Since the Constitution specifically sets arms ownership and use as a federal matter, only federal action can set common boundaries, perhaps to which states can be more restrictive (within other boundaries and sensitivity to local conditions).

Similarly, I think adequate evidence is amply available to demand that the Congress set up much stronger boundaries for actions of the president (especially this president), both in terms of decorum and actions that violate basic American values of civility (which are often damned as “political correctness”) and democratic process.

I ask that you put country over party and that you put democracy over reelection. If you do not, even lifelong Republicans will see you, too, as outside the boundaries of proper democratic leadership. I understand that this is challenging and hard work, requiring courage and conviction. However, as the father of modern conservatism Edmund Burke has oft been quoted as saying, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil over good is that good men do nothing.” I ask you to exercise the office to which you have been elected and set clear boundaries for the public good in both of these matters. There are real consequences for doing otherwise.

Jon Engelhardt, Woodway

Complacency concerns

I am grateful to Brooke Crum for her article Tuesday covering the first Sustainable Waco Conference. As one of the speakers at the seminar, I feel it is important to respond to the quoted statements of another speaker, State Climatologist John Nielsen-Gammon.

First, as far as the degree of climate change, the Arctic has warmed approximately 2 degrees Celsius above the preindustrial baseline, and essentially the entire remainder of the planet has warmed 1 degree Celsius.

Second, the statement that “we haven’t seen big impacts on the natural system yet” is inaccurate and could engender dangerous complacency. To the contrary, known current impacts include polar glacier melting, sea level rise, worsening droughts, more superstorms, exacerbated wildfires, increased river flooding, coral reef death and ocean acidification.

Rather than feeling complacent, we must recognize the emergency of anthropogenic climate change and strive to shrink our carbon footprints.

Alan D. Northcutt, M.D., Waco

Since the beginning Trump has zeroed in on Mexico, his obsession with a wall that he wants Mexico to pay for. He has made fun of handicapped people, denigrated women, forcibly removed people from supposed town meetings who disagree with him, the list is endless of the things he has said that I would put my 3-year-old in time out for.

There is no doubt that the mass shootings are a direct effect of the permission he has given to people to hate. Unless you are an American Indian you are an immigrant, no matter what your skin color. The most disturbing thing I have ever seen was a speech he made about immigrants, then the crowd started chanting go home, go home and Trump stood there smiling. It reminded me of someone from WWII, who for decades people have said why didn’t anyone do anything about him before it got out of control. Why are we letting this man destroy our reputation on a global scale?

What scares me is what our children are learning. He has set us back decades in race relations. The derivation of the name Trump is German, I will be glad to pay his airfare back to where his family immigrated from. I was discussing with my son why Trump is so friendly with Russia and North Korea. He said because our crazy Trumps their crazy, they aren’t so sure he won’t press the button. He blamed the recent mass shootings on mental illness. Yes you mix that with the leader of our country saying it is OK to hate people and you get what has happened this week. It baffles me how any self respecting person can still support this man. So for congress and the senate, it is more important to vote for what is best for our country and less about whether you will get elected if you cross the aisle. All we can do is grieve and pray for the people who lost someone, the police who are human beings and deeply affected by these shootings, the hospital workers who worked so hard to save as many as they could.

One more note, Fort Hood is the largest Army base in the U.S. I’m sure they could spare some cots and blankets for the detention centers. We treat murderers better than these people are being treated. If you lived in a country where there was no employment, no chance of getting ahead and you could not feed your children what would you do? Instead of spending money on a wall, let’s try to come up with a solution to help Mexico provide what their citizens need so they don’t have to cross illegally.

David Smith, Waco

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