Mike Barkley provided the best laugh at the League of Women Voters congressional forum Wednesday night in Modesto, but he also, uh, shot himself in the foot.
The panel was asked about the Endangered Species Act, and we heard about saving a few species and endangering a few regulations. Then it was Barkley’s turn:
“I’d like to see the current EPA director become an endangered species,” said the Manteca resident, dry as dust. The audience of about 80 at Tenth Street Place skipped a beat then cracked up.
But when Barkley mentioned that Americans should not have the right to own or bear arms, you could almost feel the gasp. He was echoing retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, who wants to repeal the 2nd amendment – which the Supreme Court has interpreted to mean we can walk around like Minutemen, armed to the armpits.
Even many gun owners dislike that interpretation. But while most of us can live with bad interpretations, we cannot live with a mutilated Bill of Rights. When you start tearing one of them off the list, no matter how careful you are, you’re going to damage the rest.
The audience skewed older and, judging from the tone of the questions, a little liberal. They were polite, attentive and mostly quiet. They didn’t cheer many answers nor did they boo any, even when Ted Howze announced he was a proud life member of the NRA. We’d expect no less from Modesto. Polite.
Asked about guns, Josh Harder brought up the elephant not in the room – Rep. Jeff Denham. “I’ll start by speaking for Mr. Denham. He wants to roll back California’s gun control laws to the kind of laws you find in Nevada.”
Then Sue Zwahlen spoke of treating gun wounds. “I’ve seen the results of gun violence (in emergency rooms). … Bullets literally implode the organs. There is no place in our society for automatic weapons.”
Virginia Madueno was one of the few to risk criticizing other Democrats: “We don’t need someone who doesn’t even live in the community.” Of course, most of them are hoping to move to Washington.
IF YOU ENJOY HEARING from crackpots, today’s your day – two will be in Modesto. First up is Ammon Bundy – the anti-government militant who felt entitled to stage an armed takeover of a national wildlife refuge in Oregon. He’ll be speaking at the Range Rights Symposium at Modesto Junior College. Being acquitted by a jury doesn’t make him innocent. Or interesting.
Later, the folks who brought Anne Coulter to Modesto last year – the Stanislaus Republican Party Central Committee – have stooped a little lower. Former Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke was available Saturday at the State Theater. Clarke once tweeted about journalists: “Punch them in the nose & make them taste their own blood.” Perhaps that’s payback for The Bee’s criticism of Coulter.
Wonder if Clarke found that suggestion on the internet. It wouldn’t be the first time he’s been accused of plagiarism. He apparently cribbed a portion of his Naval Postgraduate School graduate thesis back in 2013. Even the Trump administration wouldn’t hire this guy after he suggested a million Americans should be shipped off to Guantanamo.
Maybe Clarke and Bundy can get together for drinks when they’re done. In cracked glasses.