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Bulletin, Record, Progressive, Reporter Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2015 7B COMMUNITY PERSPECTIVE Sadly, resigned with being weak Not many people outside of Capitol Hill paid attention last month when the congressional leadership released next year's legislative schedule. Its headline feature is a strikingly long summer recess; half of July and all of August, along with a few spotty weeks of work before the November election. There are plenty of other breaks as well; in all, the House will be in session for less than one-third of the year, and the Senate only a bit longer. I suppose we could take Congress to task for not working hard enough, and I'm sure plenty of people will do so. But the schedule reveals an even more serious issue: It suggests that Congress, or at least its leadership, is unconcerned about how ineffective and even irrelevant the institution has become when WHERE I STAND LEE H. HAMILTON FORMER MEMBER U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES it comes to policy making. This has been a long-term trend, with plenty of responsibility to be laid at the feet of political leaders in both parties. Even some recent signs of progress, like the rewrite of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, aren't enough. Many people, within Washington and beyond, now take Congress's weakened state for granted, almost as if it's the natural order of things. That is because wherever you turn, Congress has lost ground as an institution. The contrast with the presidency is especially stark. Every President in recent memory has expanded the power of his office, and for good reason. The modem world demands quick, decisive action, and Americans like presidents who act forcefully. Yet the result is that the balance of power has shifted dangerously toward the President. This is especially apparent on two fronts where Congress ought to be resolute. One is the budget -- the basic blueprint for the government -- that is now largely the President's responsibility. Congress cannot even produce a real budget any more; every year, it kicks the serious fiscal questions down the road -- from hard decisions on tax reform to even harder decisions on spending. Its deference to the President is even more striking when it comes to committing U.S. forces overseas. Members of Congress happily criticize the President on issue after issue, lamenting that they cannot trust him and cannot work with him. Yet on some of the most important questions the government faces -- whether, how, where and when to intervene using military force -- they defer utterly to the White House. They do the same with the regulatory agencies. Members love to criticize the EPA, for instance, but rarely put their words into legislative action, and they fail repeatedly to do the kind of routine, painstaking oversight of federal agencies that would help eliminate wasted resources and bureaucratic overreach. At the same time, they've handed economic power to the Federal Reserve. Fifty years ago, the ordinary American who could name the chair of the Fed was rare. Today, it's hard to pick up a newspaper without reading about Janet Yellen and the Fed's board of governors. Because Congress has essentially given up on trying to shape fiscal policy, it has put the Fed in charge of keeping the economy growing. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court has become the principal way our country deals with a host of tough issues like abortion and affirmative action. These are matters that, ideally, would be wrestled through the legislative process. Instead, they're up to the Court. Congress these days is failing to assert its responsibilities under the Constitution -- it is far from being the co-equal branch our Founders envisioned. And many of its members agree. They don't believe the institution they serve is doing its job -- they'd point, for instance, to immigration reform, which Speaker Paul Ryan recently announced the House would not even touch next year, despite the pressing need. Here is an issue practically begging for rolled-up sleeves on Capitol Hill. Yet, instead of action, they get a congressional schedule that sends members back to their districts for most of the year. Which may be the most distressing part of it all. Instead of being concerned enough about Congress's weakness and inactivity to take action, its leaders, at least, appear to believe that many of the toughest issues on the national agenda are beyond their capability to resolve. Lee Hamilton is a Distinguished Scholar, Indiana University School of Global and International Studies; and a Professor of Practice, IU School of Public and Environmental Affairs. He was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for 34 years. LETTERS to the EDITOR Guidelines for letters All letters must contain an address and phone number. Only one letter per week per person will be published; only one letter per person per month regarding the same topic will be published. Feather Publishing does not print third-party, anonymous or open letters. Letters must not exceed 300 words. Writers responding to previously published letters may not mention the author by name. The deadline is Friday at 3p.m.; deadlines may change due to holidays. Letters may be submitted at any of Feather Publishing's offices, sent via fax to 283-3952 or emailed to dmcdonald@plumasnews.oom. Don't lecture us Jon Kennedy loves Plumas County so much he left it. Now he lectures us on what to do about our lack of representation: nothing. Oh wait, he says we need to elect better county supes (like him) to go hat in hand to beg for more aid to our rural counties impoverished by the runaway government in Sacramento. He, as do all his Keep It (corrupt) California sycophants, admits that we do not have representation and that our economies are in ruins. But, like black sheep, we are to be grateful for government "assistance" (first extracted from us) and just hope for the best. He knows darn good and well, that the rural counties used to be prosperous a couple decades ago, but now have had all our prosperous industries put out of business because we gradually lost our representation to the big metropolitan interests since the 1964 Reynolds vs. Sims decision. As for his arguments against how we are to be fmanced, it's not that we don't have sufficient funds to form a new state, it's that he and the anti-representation crowd don't want it to be so, because in fact he is a big, bloated-government advocate. Barbara MacArthur Lake Almanor Remembering Bikel Versatile veteran actor Theodore Bikel died this last summer. Ben Mankiewicz, of TCM, wrote that Bikel "was consistently kind, compelling, and above all else, interesting." As a 13 year-old boy living in Austria, Bikel saw the Nazi flags flying in almost every window in his neighborhood welcoming Hitler's invasion. He saw Hitler and Goering stop to relish the sight of those flags. When the principal of his school said of the Nazi invaders, "If our new friends engage in some excesses in the days and weeks ahead, we shall not be inclined to intervene," it was obvious that the Austrians had embraced Hitler and Nazism. EscapingNazism, his family went to Palestine, then London and he finally came to the USA, having established himself as an actor in London. Bikel never forgot the evils of unchecked power. In an interview last year he said, "Poverty is a scourge. Poverty is a curse. And the spread between rich and poor is getting larger and larger, much to the detriment of human dignity in the society in which we live. It cannot be allowed that billionaires fill their pockets while hungry babies cry." Salvatore Catalano Taylorsville Safe in Mexico Every year we spend several weeks in the Puerto VaUarta, usually in the autumn. Every time someone asks if we are afraid to go to Mexico. We never are. We always go from Reno through Phoenix historically with US Airways, now with American. This year our safe trip was highlighted by being evacuated due to Hurricane Patricia. We knew that the hurricane was coming, and the news was frightening. It was to be the strongest tropical storm to ever strike the west coast of the Americas. We were told on Oct. 23 that the infrastructure would be shutting down at 3 p.m. on the 24th; and that businesses were being told to close and board up and tape windows. Everyone was being told to seek high ground. We had a knock on our door at Costa Sur Resort at 9:30 on the morning of the 24th, letting us know that we had a half hour to gather up our valuables and anything we could not live without for a few days. Our mattress and bed frame were leaned against the sliding door to the balcony. We were bussed to the local trade school in the hills above town. Management from the resort arranged for food, water, blankets, etc to be brought for us. Security was . strong, including the gates being secured at dark. Fortunately for all, the storm made landfall well south of the city in a sparsely populated area. It moved fast, dissipated in strength and had a very narrow band of intensity. We were back in our room by 11 p.m., with our room made up as though nothing unusual had happened that day. Considering that all the people caring for us that day had to be worried about their own homes and loved ones, including wondering if they would have jobs to come back to, we were treated with amazing professionalism and concern. We even had several among us with physical disabilities, and all were safely around the pool next day. Yes, my wife and I always feel safe going to our home away from home in Puerto Vallarta. John R. Sanders Blairsden-Graeagle Our inalienable rights On December 15, 1791, the United States ratified the Bill of Rights. What glorious ideas are encoded therein, securing the blessings of liberty for all Americans. Recent attacks on our bedrock laws need to be examined. The first amendment clearly states that Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech. Currently, many voices seek to label opinions they do not agree with as hate speech. Unable to defend their ideas in an exchange with fellow citizens, they try to intimidate and muzzle others. This behavior must cease immediately. The venerable New York Times recently ran a:,, i front-page editorial piece for the first time in 95 years. Its editors are well aware that a mechanism exists to amend the Constitution by legal means. They chose instead to advocate the confiscation of legally owned private property that is protected by the second amendment. They are entitled to their opinion, we all are. However, the phrase, "shall not be infringed" means, exactly, shall not be infringed. To call for confiscation without a constitutional amendment is sedition. Of course they will not face any charges, because the current federal regime picks and chooses which laws they care to enforce. It might be nice to live in a world where guns do not exist, and where people live by the golden rule. We do not live in that world. We never will. What is the proper approach when living in a society where there are over 300 million guns out there, readily available to any criminal in any city at any time? Remember, when there is an active shooter in your midst, when every second counts to defend your life and your loved ones, the police are only 20 minutes away. Please, go ahead, make your choice. It is your inalienable right to do SO. If the strain o. f thinking evident in the New York Times continues to fmd favor, we may well be on the cusp of the Second American Civil War. May you all have a wonderful, and safe, Christmas Season. Stan Thompson Graeagle Send in the grownups Recently, a liberal journal titled an article on Republican presidential candidates, "Send in the Clowns." I find the joke already sour. This country needs better conservatism, and it will not get it unless the rank and file demands it. At first, responsible Republicans wished Obama well and hoped for a successful term. Then Rush Limbaugh bellowed that he hoped the administration would fail, openly touting loyalty to party over love of nation. The GOP huddled and then fell in with the Fox News line. But Fox has wedded the fun of mocking liberal sacred cows to the media space once occupied by The National Inquirer. Saying that Honduran refugee children are actually ISIS infiltrators sent to spread Ebola is no better than claiming, "Bigfoot told me UFO aliens hid the cure for cancer in Elvis's grave." Why has this prospered? At a local tea party meeting I attended, the organizer started with, "This week I won't say anything bad about hippies, because last week I found out most of you used to be one." The Fox approach hit a mother load of disillusionment and resentment over decades of politically correct guilt trips. As a politically moderate, white, male veteran who lived in Berkeley for 13 years, I fully Don't sit back and let others do the talking for you. Express yourself in our mail: dmcdonald@plumasnews.com get that. But now, just as the ever more likely that Hillary party was striving to pull itself will be taking the oath of office back toward sobriety, several a year from now. Cheers for candidates have so hijacked diversity, gay marriage and the Fox approach that Fox battling climate change. itself desperately resorted to Though I won't expect your serious journalism to stop it. Christmas card, let me offer a Even this failed, most sincere season's All the while, the voice of the greetings. practical business Doug Hanley conservative is almost Cotati unheard. Foreign policy realists have been evicted, God is our judge replaced by the same neocons Thank you Lake Davis who brought us Iraq, torture writer for your stand on truth. and open rejection of the Truth hurts, but sets you free. constitution. Society accepts tolerance as The country needs better, truth. This is a fatal flaw. Some Stop the clowning. Send in the believe that God's word is grownups, truth and therefore absolute Scott Corey when applied to critical uinc thinking. ,, i , God!s word says, "I changeth Writer needs serious helpnoti." ..... We can now As a part time Portola area whether God is a conservative resident and faithful reader of or liberal in His thought the Portola Reporter, I offer process. this response to my neighbor, Please note conservatives the frequent letter writer from are always construed as Lake Davis. You certainly have unwilling to change and the right to choose your liberals are labeled as ' friends, and to be left alone constantly pushing change. I with your guns and your Bible. believe that all have sinned You also have the right to and fall short of the glory of use this forum to shout your GOd. God set 10 views from the highest Lake commandments down that all Davis treetop, but when you modern societies seem to use terms like "traditional follow whether Christian or American," as code for your not. racist, homophobic rants Many men have been put to someone needs to step up and death in history including say, this guy needs more than John the Baptist the prophets, sensitivity training. 11 of the apostles and Christ It's when you equate himself, because they stood on liberals, many who fought and truth. died in defending your I'm careful not to follow freedom, with communists and what the majority believe, jihadist sympathizers that you because the road to hell is wide not only cross the line, but you and well traveled, as opposed encourage voters like me to to the strait and narrow road send 25 dollars to the elect to heaven. The most difficult Hillary campaign, task in life is convincing a man You see it's your failed, so that he's holding on to a lie called, Tea Party that's when he believes he's holding responsible for the emergence of Donald Tramp, making it See Letters, page 88 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 links 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 I St., Suite %600, Sacramento, CA 95814. (916) 448-2787; FAX (916) 448-2563. 112 Hart Bldg., Washington, D.C. 20510. (202) 224-3553. FAX (202) 228-0454. U.S. REPRESENTATIVE, IST DIST. - Doug LaMalfa. 506 Cannon HOB, Washington, D.C. 20515. (202) 225-3076. www.LaMalfa.House.gov.; Facebook.com/RepI_aMalfa; twitter: @RepLaMalfa. DISTRICT OFFICE: 2862 Olive Hwy, Suite D, Oroville, CA 95965, (530) 534-7100, FAX (530) 534-7800. 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, IST DIST. - Brian DaMe, State Capitol, Suite 2158, Sacramento, CA 94249-00001, (916) 319-2001; FAX (916) 319-2103. District Office, 280 Hemsted Dr., Ste. #110, Redding, CA 96002; (530) 223-6300, FAX (530) 223-6737. 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. ~t ! i i ii ii i ii i ! t