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T.J. Kirkpatrick / The New York Times / Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., listens as Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, President Joe Biden's nominee to the Supreme Court, testifies during her Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., last week.

Who would have thought a few decades ago that hard-fought-for equality for women would end with back-to-back Supreme Court rulings by a core of Ivy League, Christian conservative justices that would suggest gun toters have more freedoms than the half of Americans who can, should they choose, birth babies?

Who would have thought those justices would choose to write off the Constitution's message that our country will have no mandated religion and instead enshrine Christian prayer on the athletic fields of our public schools?

Maybe the examples of our leaders — the kind who incite rioters to overturn elections and the kind who turn blind eyes to those who do — are toxifying our local streets and state offices. Consider:

> What possessed a 63-year-old Ringgold man to use his cancer as an acceptable excuse to drive a motorcycle 139 mph along Highway 27 in portions of Rossville and other North Georgia communities, recklessly leading police on a dangerous high-speed chase? At the end of it, as officers loaded him up with 20 charges ranging from failure to obey stop signs, yields and lane lines; reckless driving, felony fleeing and attempting to elude a police officer, he apologized with a smile and said, "I guess I can check this off my bucket list."

The man, Hubert David Smith, was overheard telling his arresting officers he had a rare form of cancer and doctors didn't give him much hope. Sorry, mister, about your illness. But it gives you no justification to endanger others.

> And what poppycock political reasoning was former Chattanooga City Council member and current county school board candidate Larry Grohn thinking when he let the size and positioning of another candidate's campaign signs get the better of his judgment?

Grohn, a Republican, faces a July 22 court date on a misdemeanor charge of stealing $710 worth of another candidate's election signs — those of Democratic Hamilton County District Attorney candidate John Allen Brooks.

Grohn said he didn't steal them. He was merely moving them. His school board opponent, Katie Perkins, saw him.

"I was driving home when I saw Mr. Larry Grohn removing a John Allen Brooks campaign sign from alongside North Terrace Road. Being on friendly terms, I stopped and reminded him that a candidate shouldn't move other candidates' signs in a bit of a joking manner," Perkins said in an email to the Times Free Press.

She said Grohn told her he was doing Brooks a favor. She said she thought it odd and called her campaign manager. Grohn told the Times Free Press he didn't tell Perkins he was doing Brooks a favor, but instead said he intended to return the signs to Brooks.

Perkins' campaign manager alerted Brooks' campaign manager, who then called the police and reported six signs as stolen, adding that Brooks had not asked Grohn to remove the signs. Grohn later texted Brooks' manager that he had two Brooks' signs, and asking: "Should I deliver them to his office?"

Brooks' manager's reply was, "No worry about returning them ... police have been contacted about the theft."

Grohn told our reporter he then put the signs — the two he said he'd removed — back at the same locations.

If there's a moral here, it's never let your political ego lead you around by the nose.

> Tennessee Republican U.S. Sens. Marsha Blackburn and Bill Hagerty opposed the bipartisan legislation to strengthen federal gun laws and provide federal dollars to help stave off future mass shootings.

The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, which was supported by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, and put together by a 20-member bipartisan group of 10 Democratic and 10 Republican senators, was signed by President Joe Biden on Saturday.

We're not talking about a wildly liberal bill.

It would expand background checks for prospective gun buyers between the ages of 18 and 21, incentivize states to provide access to juvenile records for background checks, add several days to the purchase waiting period, provide $15 billion in new federal funding for mental health programs and school security upgrades, provide $750 million for grants to encourage states to create "red flag" laws to allow law enforcement to ask courts to remove guns from someone deemed to be a threat to themselves or others, and close the "boyfriend loophole" in an existing law that prevents people convicted of domestic abuse from owning a gun.

Yet Blackburn told Fox News on Wednesday that "the Second Amendment is not negotiable."

If that's true, senator, why not say it's also OK for convicted felons to have guns and permitless carry?

Hagerty told Bloomberg TV he didn't like the language of the some of the red flag law provisions because it provides "unelected bureaucrats and judges a great deal of autonomy to determine how they're going to restrict Americans' Second Amendment rights."

Wait. Senator, are you talking about those same unelected judges who sentence people to time in federal prison? And the same kind of unelected Supreme Court judges who decide it's OK for anyone in New York — and by extension any state — to carry a gun outside of their homes without a license? Even in a space that would make you uncomfortable? Like into the Capitol? Or outside a court justice's home?

Yeah. There's some real strange stuff in our water these days.

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