Parting Comments

Thirteen years into my experience with politics in Orleans County, I have vicariously experienced an indication that things are becoming less civil. Three Hillary Clinton signs placed in front yards on East Avenue have been trashed or stolen. It isn’t the $60 cost; it is the disrespect of free speech and property rights that is most disappointing. One of the victims was a 104 year old, registered republican lady who asked for her sign.

I wonder how Donald Trump would react if, after becoming a baseball coach, he found out that games are decided by both “unearned” runs as well as “earned” runs. Would he pitch a fit if he lost a game in which his opponent scored four unearned runs to his team’s three earned runs?

How new to basic civics is the Trump family? Under long-standing New York Election Law, two of Donald’s grown children cannot vote for their father in Tuesday’s primary. Were they not registered at all, or were they not registered republicans?

Can you imagine the hissy fit that Donald will throw once he finds out that Presidents are chosen by Electoral College votes rather than popular votes?

Trump has thrown out so much nonsense in the past few months that it is impossible to keep up with it. When he commented about the size of Marco Rubio’s ears, I could not believe that no one thought to inform him that the size of Abraham Lincoln’s ears did not stop him from being one of our greatest Presidents.

Then there is Bernie Sanders. There is a lot to admire about him, no doubt. But his tone has gotten really sour. He claims that Hillary Clinton is under a lot of pressure. My take is that Bernie is the one feeling the heat. He has energized a huge fan base and is realizing that he could come up short after working very hard and doing so well. After 2008, Hillary Clinton knows the feeling. But it has dawned on him that he may not make it. That is hard to swallow and may explain his increasingly cantankerous tone. By the way, many of Sanders’ pledged delegates were chosen by caucuses attended by people who are more like the members of the Orleans Democratic Committee than your typical registered democrats.

Once again, Hillary Clinton is not her husband and should not be faulted for his shortcomings. I remain convinced that she is the best suited candidate to be President.

Sincerely yours,
Gary Kent

Hillary Clinton for President

As a democrat having to choose between Bernie Sanders, whom I have long admired for his principled positions, and Hillary Clinton, the candidate with the most experience in the presidential sweepstakes, I reflected before making my choice.

Bernie has done us a great service by advancing the conversation in the direction of European style democratic socialism (voters voted for it), something few others have been willing to broach. He is certainly a principled idealist. There is not much to dislike about his courage and intelligence.

But Hillary Clinton is not her husband. She should not be tarnished by her husband’s shortcomings and, in some ways, mediocre Presidency. She didn’t commit the unpardonable sin of defeating H.W. in 1992. She should not be faulted for sticking to her marriage vows and standing by her husband.

In my mind, as was the case with Nancy Reagan and Laura Bush, Hillary would have made a better President than her husband. Each of them was/is more thoughtful.

Clinton haters reserve the sorriest of their double standards for her. Benghazi was likely an avoidable tragedy. As Secretary of State, she bears ultimate responsibility. But why is it that so many of the hypocrites who would love to crucify her for Benghazi view Reagan as some sort of deity when his Trump-like disdain for expert advice doomed 264 United States Marines to their deaths at the Beirut airport in the early eighties?

Where was the outrage when George W. Bush pulled one of the biggest bonehead stunts in history in 2003? As I recall, he got re-elected in 2004. The circumstances were “different” from Benghazi. For starters, more than a thousand times more Americans died because of his failure.

Hillary is better versed in the broad range of issues the next President is likely to have to deal with than any of the other candidates. I do not believe her husband is even close to her in ability. The only republican who comes close to her grasp of the issues is John Kasich.

So, why do so many people have such a big problem with her? Readers hostile to the notion of another President Clinton believe she is a liar. Too many of them get their “news” from the internet. They may point to her email server and communications deemed classified and sensitive after the fact. Others, including me, just cannot see Bill as “First” anything. That is my problem.

Those who point out that she receives big contributions from Wall Street, or wherever, may be unfamiliar with the finance process. Not that I am an expert, but Hillary has received $300,000 from those connected with “big oil.” Republicans have been given seventy times as much. Sanders has received money from people connected with “big oil” as well. Contributions reflect probability of success as well as preference. As has been demonstrated many times, they guarantee nothing more than the hearing we are all entitled to. Obama signed Dodd-Frank after getting loads of money from Wall Street, did he not?

Just as with President Obama, the haters can say what they will. I continue to come back to the ugly reality that often remains unspoken. Obama is Black and Hillary is a woman for crying out loud! It doesn’t matter that countries from Argentina to India and many, many others have had female heads of state. Margaret Thatcher even proved her “fitness” for the job of Prime Minister by launching the Falkland-Malvinas War!

I am confident, that, knowing what I know now, Hillary Clinton is the best suited to be President of those in the current field. Aside from her too hawkish foreign policy positions, her positions are the realistic products of years of thoughtful consideration.

Gary Kent
Albion, NY

Understanding the Constitution

Constitution “touters” range from Ted Cruz to those who write letters to the editor and routinely pronounce a variety of things “un-Constitutional.” Typically, the ones who say the most steadfastly cling to revisionist thinking about a document they often revere but have limited familiarity with.

As originally presented in 1787, the Constitution was a potentially dangerous document with Mr. Hamilton’s “fingerprints” all over it. Jefferson seems to have been alarmed as much by what it said as by what it did not. The Bill of Rights– added in 1791–sought to address some of its glaring shortcomings.

But even with Amendments 1-10, by design, the Constitution created a powerful federal government. Wishful thinking won’t change the facts. As I read it, the Tenth Amendment sets aside any grey areas to the states and/or the people respectively. It doesn’t reassign powers given the federal government or permit the states to do things they had been prohibited from doing. It does not change the division of powers or the Constitution’s words.

One alarming passage that remains extremely vague concerns the Constitutional definition of treason. It could be perverted by one who was power crazy to construe much of our daily actions as treasonous. The fact that it hasn’t happened is, in part, a tribute to the esteem in which the Constitution is held.

The Preamble states that one purpose of creating the federal system (division of powers) under the Constitution was to “promote the general welfare.” Anyone who professes to know exactly what those words actually mean is on shaky ground. They are open to interpretation.

Article 1, section 8, clause 18 states that “Congress shall have the power to make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers (contained in clauses 1-17, the “enumerated” powers).” One of those is the power to regulate interstate commerce. Congress set up Migratory Bird Hunting regulations, the EPA and the Clean Air Act based on such language.

The Constitution’s authors clearly wrote much of the document with the intention that it be interpreted as needed to cope with evolving circumstances. Even the Bill of Rights has a great deal of such language (In other cases, language is very specific.). The idea that it is a “living document” has rightly been an accepted interpretation for many decades. Article V’s provision regarding amendment is a further indication of such original intent.

With regard to what often amounts to a rehashing of Civil War era states’ rights theory, the authors’ intentions were made abundantly clear in Article VI (the national supremacy clause). It leaves no doubt that all things federal take precedence over conflicting state actions.

That position is bolstered by Article I, section 4 (pertaining to state rules governing elections of Senators and Representatives). Though elections are handled by the states, the Constitution stipulates that “. . . Congress may . . . alter such (state) regulations.” Perhaps this was meant to stress the critical importance of above-board elections in a democracy.

It is clear that when states and citizens are urged by any self-proclaimed Constitutional ‘scholar’ to defy existing federal law the ‘scholars’ themselves may be encouraging violation of the Constitution. Of course they have a right of civil disobedience. They can also be arrested for breaking the law.

As an aside, interpreting the words, “. . . the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed” out of context suggests the author of the Bill of Rights included the introductory clause in Amendment 2 without purpose.

The individual right of ordinary citizens to possess firearms is, oddly enough, protected through clearly intended loose construction of Amendment 9. This is particularly true when one considers the history of the United States. As with any right, limitations may apply. Supreme Court nominee, and strict constructionist, Robert Bork may have thought Amendment 9 had no meaning, as it protects nothing in particular. As with much of the Constitution, however, it has meaning and was included in the Bill of Rights for a reason. Strict constructionists may have difficulty explaining away such inconvenient truths.

Gary Kent
Albion