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July 30, 2014     Feather River Bulletin
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Bulletin, Record, Progressive, Reporter Wednesday, July 30, 2014 7B COMMUNITY PERSPECTIVE It's voters that ensure incumbents keep getting elected It's no news that Congress is unpopular. In fact, at times it seems like the only real novelty on Capitol Hill would be a jump in its approval rating. In June, a Gallup poll found members' standing with the American people at a historic low for a midterm-election year. Which might have been notable except, as The Washington Post pointed out, that "Congress's approval rating has reached historic lows at least 12 ... times since 2(310." Here's the interesting thing: nearly three-quarters of Americans want to throw out most members of Congress, including their own representative, yet the vast majority of incumbents will be returning to Capitol Hill in January. In other words, Americans scorn Congress but keep re-electing its members. How could this be? WHERE I STAND LEE H. HAMILTON DIRECTOR CENTER ON CONGRESS INDIANA UNIVERSITY The first thing to remember is that members of Congress didn't get there by being lousy politicians. They know as well as you and I that Congress is unpopular, and they're masters at separating themselves from it and running against it-- appearing to be outsiders trying to get in, rather than insiders who produce the Congress they pretend to disdain. They're also adept at talking up their own bipartisanship -- which is what most general-election voters want-: when, in fact, they almost always vote with their own party's leadership, especially on the obscure procedural votes that can decide an issue before the actual up-or-down vote is taken. Just as inportant, incumbents enjoy an overwhelming advantage in elections: a large staff, both in Washington and at home, whose jobs focus on helping constituents. They find lost Social Security checks, help get funding for economic development projects; cut through red tape to secure veterans' benefits. At election time, voters remember this. That's not the only help members can expect. They're buttressed in ways challengers can only dream about. They're paid a good salary, so they don't have to worry about supporting their families while they campaign. They get to spend their terms effectively campaigning year-round, not just at election time, and they are able to saturate their state or district with mass mailings. The nature of their work allows them to build ties to various interest groups back home -- which quite naturally seek out the incumbents and ignore challengers. Incumbents receive invitations to more events than they can possibly attend; challengers have trouble ffmding a meeting interested in having them. Incumbents get the honored place in the parade, the prime speaking position, the upper hand when it comes to raising money; challengers have to fight for visibility and money. And the news media seek out incumbents, often ignoring the challengers. In fact, challengers are at a disadvantage at almost every point in a campaign. From building name recognition to arranging meetings to building credibility with editorial boards, donors and opinion leaders, they're trudging uphill. They do get one leg up -- they're in the district all the time, while the incumbent has to be in Washington regularly -- but that's a small advantage compared to the obstacles arrayed against them. Especially when districts are gerrymandered, as they often are, to protect incumbents. This means that in primaries, incumbents generally need to focus just on the most active voters, while in general elections the vast majority can consider themselves on safe ground. But there's another reason incumbents keep getting re-elected that's also worth considering: voters that's you and me. Most Americans don't vote, which means that a U.S. senator or representative might be elected by only 20 percent of the eligible voters. And those who do vote often cast their ballots for narrow or unusual reasons. They like the way they got treated by the incumbent's staff, or they shook his or her hand at a county fair, or they like his or her stand on a particular social or economic issue, or perhaps they just recognize the name. Whatever the case, they don't look at an incumbent's entire record: votes on a cross-section of vital issues; willingness to work with members of different ideologies and backgrounds; ability to explain Washington back home and represent home in Washington; skill at forging consensus on tough policy challenges. It's really no mystery that incumbent members get re-elected. Their advantages are baked into the system. Lee Hamilton is director of the Center on Congress at Indiana University. He was a member of the U.S. House of Representa tires for 34 years, America's social programs need to discourage dependency Flying never happens until the bird leaves the nest. President Johnson's Great Society is just over 50 years old. During this very long period America's great society nest has become huge and yet crowded. President Lyndon Johnson declared war on poverty in January 1964. He then needed a poster child for his new campaign and chose my hometown Inez, Kentucky. The famous Time Magazine picture of Tom Fletcher and his family sitting on a porch with the president happened about 2 miles from my WHERE I STAND GLENN MOLLETTE COLU MNIST boyhood home. Life changed for America in many ways in the '60s. The Civil Rights Act was vital and was an important piece of Johnson's war. Helping kids go to college was a crucial investment in America's future. In reality at face value it's hard to knock most of the programs that have became permanent American fixtures. Most of us know someone that has used Medicare; Medicaid; federal college help; food stamps; Head Start; Women, Infants, and Children; and much, much more. With any thought whatsoever we know that many of Johnson's programs have been lifesavers for millions of Americans. The problem is how far do we go and for how long?. Threeffourths of our national budget goes to Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and defense. I realize Johnson didn't start Social Security or our defense program. However, his administration produced about 40 new programs and most of them in some form are still in existence. Government programs seldom go away. They just et bigger and need more and more money. I am all for helping people that really need it and are trying. However, there has to be a cut-offtime. Federal handouts can't go on for a lifetime unless someone is truly disabled. A lifetime of welfare is personal and national debilitation. One big problem is that all of the Great Society programs are enrolling more and more people. In millions of cases people hang on to their government support for as long as possible. Mere people require more federal budget dollars. These dollars come from the taxes of the American people. America is broke and going deeper and deeper into debt to keep our current programs going. The safety net programs of the Great Society era must only be safety nets with a cut-off time. Millions should not be allowed to live In these safety programs forever. Whether it's one, two or even three years, there must be a cut-off time when the government says "no more." There comes a time that every family must insist that every abled child financially care for himself. I firmly believe we must help every child succeed. This involves a major investment of our time and resources. Education and/or some type of training are vital to all. However, the time comes and it's painful but children have to leave the nest. If they do not they will never learn how to fly and survive. Gleam Mollette is an American columnist and author. Contact him at GMolletteaol.com. LETTERS to the EDITOR Guidelines for Letters All letters must contain an address and a phone number. We publish only one letter per weekper person and only one letter per person per month regarding the same subject. We do not publish third-party, anonymous, or open letters. Letters must be limited to a maximum of 300 words. The editor will cut any letter in excess of 300 words. The deadline is Friday at 3p.m. (Deadlines may change due to holidays.) Letters may be taken to any of Feather Publishing's offices, sent via fax to 283-3952 or e-mailed to dmcdnald@plumasnews'mm" Helpful deputy How many times do we want to see a sheriffs car pull in behind you? My husband and I got a flat tire on Highway 36 on our way to Lake Almanor. We were so happy to see Deputy Dave Isham pull in behind us. Not only did he offer assistance, but he stayed with us until AAA came to our aid. He was very polite and, with his car behind us, we felt safe from the traffic coming up the hill. It is amazing how long it takes cars to pull into the outside lane until it seemed the last minute. A young couple in a truck made a U-turn and asked if we needed help. The sheriffs deputy and the people of this area are the best. Hal and Jean Gillette San Jose Watering conflict Advisory. I'm being facetious. This is intended as humor; it is not to be taken seriously. Water. If you have any lawn, or other water-dependent groundcover, just flood as much water as possible on any green plant near your place. Don't shut off that spigot until midnight on Thursday, July 31. Beginning Aug. 1, you are likely to be fined if you do, but burnt if you don't. Last week's paper contained a reference from both sides of the argument. The Fire-safe committee is meeting, and the article concerning the statewide drought was also reported. The Fire-safe committee wisely advises keeping lawns and other groundcovers well-trimmed and green. Obviously impossible without water. The drought preparedness board has authority to fine homeowners $500/day for excessive or wasteful watering. This makes for a very tough choice, don't you think? Gene Nielsen Crescent Mills Helping hands I was excited to read about the Meadow Valley church's mission trip that was close to home. There are so many Plumas County citizens who would benefit from the help of church members willing to provide service. I'm sure there are other services needed even in our state close to home. Even more awesome, would be to have more of our community churches participate. And maybe participate together with one church "hosting" the event. We have many talented citizens in Plumas county. Neighboring counties could also use help in different areas. The LDS youth from six areas, including Plumas County as one area, went to Chico for three days to provide service at a school. Great job to all our people here to get out and help one another. Be it home or abroa'd. Tracy Weaver Quincy Obama presidency a success So many Americans seem to be disappointed with President Obama. The President should be judged by his achievements, not by the unrealistic fantasies held in 2008; and by that standard, Obama's presidency is a major success. Despite constant opposition from Republicans, Obama's health-care reform law is working well. Enrollments came in above projections; the number of uninsured Americans has dropped sharply, and additional insurance companies are jumping into the exchanges to compete for new customers -- all great signs for the Affordable Care Act. Obama's new emissions rules for power plants the most important environmental initiative since the Clean Air Act -- mark the first serious attempt to address climate change. Obama's regulatory reforms of Wall Street have enraged the big banks-- proof the new rules have teeth. Yes, many Americans are disappointed that Obama didn't manage to make our politics less bitter and polarized, but how was that possible, when Republicans were determined to block him from day one. In the face of Republicans' relentless sabotage, Obama has moved the ball down the field. President Obama should be applauded for his effort. Ron Lowe Nevada City WTC 7 The NYC Coalition For Accountability Now recently gathered 67,000 Signatures to get a reinvestigation of 9-11 (WTC 7) on the ballot. Of course NYC Mayor De Blasio objects. If you want to understand their concern, here's how to decide for yourself. By typing "pull it" on YouTube, you will get a 26-second clip of WTC complex owner Larry Silverstein telling PBS in 2002 that he and fire officials decided to "pull it." He speaks about WTC 7, a 46-story building, which stood intact until 5:30 p.m. that dreaded day, when it collapsed perfectly into its own footprint. It collapsed because they "pulled it." Larry told the truth ... sort of. There are a couple minor things that don't add up. The "Official, 911 Investigation claims WTC 7 fell from fire weakened structural steel. But Larry said they "pulled it." Huh? Another small item. If they did decide, mid-day, on 911 to "pull it," how do you rig a 46-story building, let alone get to the job site Lu four or five hours? Answer You can't. Therefore we must accept that WTC 7 was wired and rigged before 911. Please give this discrepancy some thought, and you will have very serious questions about who really killed our people. If you review the horrible but similar collapse footage of WTC i, 2 and 7, you see lower floors falling as fast as higher floors. Many WTC first responders are on record recounting the basement explosions. In 2000, the Neo-Con think tank Project For A New American Century published a paper called "Rebuilding America's Defenses" which called for a "New Pearl Harbor"... we sure got one. Thanks "Dubya." Robert Milne Clio Senior housing I feel it's time for the Plumas County Community Development Commission to do a needs assessment of this area concerning the need for senior housing, 62 and older, and this issue impacts this local economy. The following information is from an article that I read, a year or so ago concerning Social Security Seniors in this age group, in particular. It read something like this: New Senior Complexes for seniors 62 or older are on the upswing In most forward thinking communities. These complexes add greatly to the local economy as these seniors tend to shop locally; frequently access their local public services, i.e. medical facility, transportation, library, local museums, historical societies, etc.; volunteer much of their time to local fund raisers for reasons of social interaction and community involvement; keep abreast of local issues and participate in local community forums, as well as keep a watchful eye on the national news. So why is it that Quincy has only one small, 45 unit, 62-or-older, and/or certified disabled, senior complex, namely the very nice, centrally located, Mountain View Manor? For a population area of this size, it only makes sense to me that another 62-or-older complex should be in the planning process. Quincy has limited housing for rent, but even then, seniors, 62-or-older, are not usually interested in buying, or even renting a home; these seniors tend to seek secure apartment complexes that more closely fit their needs at a time in their life when they prefer to be free of heavy encumbrances. Also, with the ever-increasing enrollment at Feather River College, available apartments are getting harder to find. The Plumas County Community Development Commission is a federally funded agency and federal funds are often readily available to meet specific needs in remote, economically deprived rural areas, so now would be the time! Nansi Bohne Quincy Contact your elected officials... PLUMAS COUNTY SUPERVISORS - 520 Main Street, Room 309, Quincy, CA 95971; (530) 283-6170; FAX: (530) 283-6288; E-Mail: pcbs@countyofplumas.com. Individual supervisors can also be e-mailed from lines on the county website, countyofplumas.com PRESIDENT - Barack Obama, the White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., NW Washington, D.C. 20500. (202) 456-1414. Fax: 202-456-2461 E-mail: whitehouse.gov/contact/ U.S. SENATOR - Dianne Feinstein (D), 331 Hart Senate Office Bldg., Washington, D.C. 20510. (202) 224-3841; FAX: 202-228-3954; TTY/TDD: (202) 224-2501. District Office: One Post Street, Suite 2450, San Francisco, CA 94104; Phone: (415) 393-0707; Fax: (415) 393-0710 Website: feinstein.senate.gov. U.S. SENATOR - Barbara Boxer (D). District Office: 501 1 St., Suite 7-600, Sacramento, CA 95814. (916) 448-2787; FAX (916) 448-2563; OR 112 Hart Bldg., Washington, D.C. 20510. (202) 224-3553. FAX (202) 228-0454. ) u.s. REPRESENTATIVE, 1ST DIST. - Doug LaMalfa. 506 Cannon HOB, Washington, D.C. 20515. (202) 225-3076. lamalfa.house.gov. DISTRICT OFFICES: 1453 Downer St., Suite #A, Oroville, CA 95965; 2885 Churn Creek R., Suite #C, Redding, CA 96002. STATE SENATOR, 1st DIST. - Ted Gaines. State Capitol, Room 3070, Sacramento, CA 95814. (916) 651-4001, FAX: (916) 324-2680. El Dorado Hills Constituent Service Center:. 4359 Town Center Boulevard, Suite 112, E1 Dorado Hills, CA 95762. (916) 933-7213, FAX (916) 933-7234; Redding Constituent Service Center:. 1670 Market St., Suite 244, Redding, CA 96001, (530) 225-3142, FAX (530) 225-3143. STATE ASSEMBLYMAN, 1ST DIST. - Brian Dahle, State Capitol, Room 2174, Sacramento, CA 94249, (916) 319-2001; FAX (916) 319-2103. llDistrict Office, 2080 Hemsted Dr., Ste. #110, Redding, CA 96002; i(530) 223-6300, FAX (530) 223-6737. I GOVERNOR - Jerry Brown, office of the Governor, State Capitol, Suite 1173, Sacramento, CA 95814. Website: gov.ca.gov/ (916) 445-2841. FAX: (916) 558-3160.