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April 9, 2013

Very First “Sine Die” 2013

Roy Meachum

The scene this morning at State House was vacantly empty, compared with early hours since January 9. Sometime Monday, certainly late, the General Assembly 2013 adjourned. Both the Senate and the House of Delegates passed resolutions declaring they intended to get together sine die—“without day.”


Certainly, the State of the State means the Maryland legislature weigh and balance and compromise on matters they didn’t get around to in these harrowing 90 days. The General Assembly keeps to a schedule formed in the days when transportation wasn’t so available and the members received their daily bread for some activity related to agriculture and the Chesapeake Bay.


This year has been acutely politicized, maybe the most since I moved here in 1950. Three of my children slept their first nights in Prince George’s County; the youngest came into the family during those two years we spent in Illinois. As readers know, this “coon-ass” first saw light in Louisiana. This is my way of attesting that I care very much about Maryland and its citizens; my grandchildren were born here. The matters of taxes mean much to me.


Most of my Frederick friends and familiars are very indignant that prices for gas will certainly rise. From a generation grown up with a dime a gallon, I was outraged when the 1973 war disturbed that pattern. People once exploited are “exploiting” right back. Their women and children have gained “liberation” from poverty, dreadful education and disgraceful medical care. Not all.


Most of the local anger concentrates on higher state tariffs. Much of my personal anger comes from the behavior of most politicians, until I’m forced to remember in my youth’s era public servants were dumber and with less “book knowledge.” We survived and prospered.


Of course, there is serious anger toward the new gun laws that concentrates on fingerprinting and the exclusion of military-style weapons and their non-hunting cartridge capacities. They vociferously claim they have a right under the Constitution’s Second Amendment: “A well regulated militia, being necessary for the survival of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.” That’s all of it.


The most famous National Rifle Association president was Charlton Heston, whom I met when he participated in President Lyndon B. Johnson’s White House Festival of the Arts. At the time, he was a flaming liberal, appearing in pictures with civil rights figures (hence his presence at the White House). Aside from his sterling movie roles, he’s remembered for the quote that he repeated, that they would grab his Second Amendment rights “from my cold, dead hands.”


All of the furor over the new gun law in Maryland comes from emotional bases, depending on the individual. The strongest I’ve heard is that men and women are losing rights “every day.” Deteriorating, if nothing else. This reduction of individualism has much to do with the explosion of cell phones, computers and television. In my childhood, we contended with movies and radio and the telephones remained on the buildings’ walls.


The entire concept of sine die has been transformed; the human race is newly rootless. Transportation contributes a great deal. This morning we could be in Frederick and by lunch several time zones distant.


The anger is real and should be held close to hand. Anything else is unreal.


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