Video Games

The confusion may be understandable, but that isn’t Donald Trump in the “Mobile Strike” ad. It’s “General” Arnold Schwarzenegger.

As a conventional enemy appears on the horizon, Arnold orders, “Build now!” “Higher!” he demands, as a wall emerges from the ground below.

As enemy choppers wipe out on the barrier, “General” Schwarzenegger gloats, “It seems the enemy has hit a bit of a wall.” “Perfect”, he adds.

Had the ad continued, we might imagine hearing the familiar Trumpian assurance that, “They don’t know it yet, but I.S.I.S. will pay for the wall.”

Fighting nominally “Islamic” terrorists (the type who thrive as a result of things like Abu Ghraib) isn’t as simple as playing video games.

To someone who gets his information about foreign affairs by watching “the shows”, defeating I.S.I.S. by unilaterally taking the oil, building a wall, or carpet bombing might be serious solutions. To me, they are more suitable for video games.

Sincerely,
Gary Kent
Albion, NY

Debate on a Level Playing Field

Dear Editor:

As a 16 year old, I watched the Kennedy-Nixon debate in 1960, televised in black and white. Even at that time, I was taking a keen interest in foreign affairs, stimulated, in part, by a classmate’s escape from East Germany (GDR) in the fifties. The Cuban Revolution added to that fascination.

The next day when I went to school I could not believe that the consensus was that Kennedy had “won” the debate. I later discovered that polls indicated those who watched on television tended to take that view, while those who listened on the radio felt Nixon had won. On the radio, you were able to concentrate on content, rather than being distracted by personal appearance, body language, sweating, suit color, make up and tan. What a joke.

I was 16 and had watched it on television. Mom was a Democrat and Dad was a Republican. I am proud to say that, to me, there was absolutely no doubt that Nixon had been more substantive, used fewer generalities and generally had a greater command of the facts. But Kennedy won the all-important packaging competition.

In tomorrow’s debate, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump will be all dolled/duded up and a lot of attention will have been made to the colors each wears. Though body language, including facial expressions, will still be factors, personal appearance likely will not. Trump will come in as one experienced in business and entertainment, the author of “The Art of the Deal”. Clinton will come in as an experienced/ career politician and the author of “It Takes a Village”. She will come in as a life-long Democrat. He will come in as one who has changed party affiliation numerous times. She will appear as one who has been cheated on more than once. He will take the stage as one who has done the cheating many times.

The “bar” for candidate Trump will likely be very low. Can he be serious, respectful, and civil while sounding as if he knows what he is talking about without a teleprompter? For Clinton, the question will be whether, or not, she can get viewer-listeners to acknowledge that she is not her husband or Barack Obama and that a woman should be judged by the exact same standard as men. This has been successfully accomplished in 61 other countries. Whether it can be here is another question.

Clinton will have to accurately portray herself as far superior to Trump to be considered the “winner”. As Tom Toles noted in a Buffalo News cartoon last Sunday, her “defect” was discovered in her medical evaluation when her doctor checked the box next to “female”. Though finding someone who will admit it is nearly impossible, for far too many people, that may be her most glaring flaw.

Sincerely yours,
Gary Kent
Albion, NY

Respecting the Republic

Dear Editor:

It Is All About Respect

As I recall, the Constitutional definition of treason against the United States includes “giving aid and comfort to their enemies”.

Though few things are sacrosanct, we certainly can accept the need to continually improve institutions such as our judicial system, electoral process and free press. Respect for them, tempered by objective skepticism, is essential to an orderly and free society. When a major party Presidential candidate routinely undermines public confidence in such institutions, it can have serious consequences and may give encouragement to those who wish us ill.

In a country where we count on an informed electorate to choose our leaders and determine policy directions, a vigorous, independent, journalistic tradition is vital. We count on reporters to sift through mountains of information and provide us with the essential facts upon which to make informed decisions. They attempt to help us hold politicians accountable. As citizens of a democracy, we are given a solemn responsibility to decide how best to deal with matters of considerable complexity. For a democratic republic to succeed, the journalists who are so often reviled are essential, and, as such, the service they perform should be respected rather than routinely belittled.

Similarly, the citizens in a republic must have confidence in elections. They must respect majority rule, even when their party is rejected at the polls. They cannot be fed a steady diet of “rigged” elections and exaggerated voter fraud and be expected to have more faith in our election outcomes. Without such confidence, they would be less likely to vote. They would be more likely to disrespect election outcomes, resist such outcomes, and obstruct the agenda of the victor. Doubting the legitimacy of the election process, they might seek to delegitimize the victor, obfuscate, and refuse to accept the will of the majority. Unwilling to accept defeat at the polls, in extreme cases, they may seek justice in the streets and even advocate revolution, rather than respect the Constitution’s remedies.

Where the courts are concerned, again the potential for destroying civil society from within is real. Judges don’t always rule in our favor. Though our system seeks to ensure their independence, their decisions are often second guessed. The respect so essential to their ability to authoritatively decide questions based on law can be fragile.

When a major party Presidential candidate rarely misses an opportunity to raise doubts about our electoral process, it undermines necessary confidence in a vital American institution. This candidate did his best to thwart the will of a clear majority by doing what he could to undermine President Obama through his irresponsible leadership of the “birthers”.

When a major party Presidential candidate repeatedly attacks the courts for protecting his opponent, or being against him because of a judge’s national origins, latent disrespect for another crucial institution is fueled. Like it, or not, a Presidential candidate has a lot of influence.

Presidential candidates have a responsibility to avoid routinely attacking institutions vital to our Constitutional system. That assumes that they want the best for the republic.

When a candidate dismisses any newspaper, network, reporter, or expert questioning him as “failed’, or points his index finger at the press corps covering a rally calling them “the worst people in the world”, it feeds into the suspicion that journalists cannot be trusted. Because he is a major party Presidential candidate, he has to be taken seriously, even though there may be few other reasons to take him seriously.

Though delegitimizing these basic institutions is an ongoing threat to the nation, this candidate has also used his credibility to question agencies such as the Federal Reserve and the Internal Revenue Service. We may not enjoy paying taxes, but they are a fact of life in the greatest nation on earth. An appropriately regulated banking system is a necessity.

Some people just are not Presidential material. It is about time people started believing their eyes and ears.

Sincerely yours,
Gary Kent
Albion, NY

Reply to Senator Robert Ortt

Senator Robert Ortt recently sent me an e-mail concerning his proposed Red Tape Reduction Act.  Here is my response.

Senator,

None of the material in this letter or the provided link identifies a single example of the “red tape” that you claim adversely affects local businesses.  Your argument would be stronger if you could provide information like that.  It would help if you could cite particular regulations and also describe the origin and purpose of the regulation.  I suspect there was a reason for each regulation.  The tone of your letter suggests the opposite, as if regulations are created only for the purpose of harming business.  Protection of wetlands and water resources, consumer safety measures, truth in advertising, and non-discriminatory hiring, lending and real estate protections, for example, are good things for governments to secure and monitor.  The economic disaster that began in 2008 is most likely due to a poorly regulated financial services sector – the solution to that is not less regulation!  “Get rid of red tape” is a simplistic campaign slogan, not a program for progress.  The approach you are proposing (with the absence of any detail) only serves to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

James Renfrew
Clarendon NY

Status Quo? Hell No – Upend Republican Congress!

For 29 of the last 35 years we’ve had a Republican-controlled Congress. In one of President Reagan mid-terms and Obama’s first two years, although a Democrat majority, on many issues, southern Democrats sided with we Republicans.

During that time, our national debt has risen dramatically, budget deficits have risen.

America’s middle class has been decimated, while the upper class has become fabulously rich. We Republicans have presided over a redistribution of wealth from the working and middle classes, to primarily the super rich and powerful.

We’ve had deregulation of banks, Wall Street, business in general, along with business failures, tax-payer funded bailouts and rampant fraudulent practices.

Campaign contributions/bribery(?) have spun out of control, at the hands of us Republicans. A long-lasting, essentially failed bi-partisan effort to reign these in, have been blocked by the Republicans in Congress and the right-wing Supreme Court Republican appointees.

During our tenure, medical costs have dramatically risen. Until 1983, most health insurance was private-not-for-profit. Since 1983, it has become for profit and costs have sky-rocketed.

We Republicans have given drug and insurance industries regulatory and de-regulatory gifts (e.g. Medicare Part D and no Public Option). Result: huge costs to the struggling elderly, the poor and the tax-payer and consumers generally. Further, the huge costs impoverished local and state governments, resulting in reductions of essential services: police and consumer protection, public and mental health.

We’ve reduced taxes on the rich, in hopes of improving American economy, and in thanks and patriotism they’ve moved industry to Mexico, China, etc. and moved their money to foreign banks.

Although we say we’re opposed to abortion, and had a 7-2 majority in the Supreme Court (6 of them Catholics), in 35 years we’ve passed no law significantly limiting abortions. Most laws proposed are against women, with no proposed law holding the fathers responsible. Yet, men often call the shots and abusive men often cause abortions. The chance to add a Hyde Amendment piece to Affordable Care Act, was ignored because the Republicans in Congress didn’t want to give President Obama “a victory” on universal health care. This was stated by Senate leader Mitch McConnell and others. As far as my party seemed concerned, victory over Pres. Obama was more important than children in the womb and “the common good.”

In 1986, we Republicans passed an immigration law that was supposed to stop undocumented persons from entering the US. We never saw that it was enforced, resulting in approximately 11 million undocumented being in the US for many years. American farming and service industries, primarily, “needed these workers.” Numerous efforts to solve immigration and the injustice and the family problems that attach to this, despite two bi-partisan proposals, have ultimately been blocked by Republicans in the House and/or by Republican Senate filibusters.

Professional organizations have become partisan with financial gain and power their primary goals, rather than good performance and integrity.

Police and regulatory agencies, be they local, state or federal, and education and medical care quality and outcomes have become considerably reduced, mainly at the hands of we Republicans since we took control in 1982.

We’ve neglected the infra-structure, with many bridges dangerous, roads and public buildings deteriorating. We seem only able to build new, where the most money is to be made (and political contributions generated?). We’ve played politics rather than having the discipline to take care of what we’ve expended our tax-dollars on one, two or more generations ago.

Although, throughout history, we’ve raised taxes to finance wars, we Republicans continued to insist on tax breaks for the rich, during recent conflicts. With the excessively expensive privatization of the second Iraq war (see Joseph Stiglitz’s Price of Inequality) our national debt rose precipitously.

Bounce the status quo: No more Republican Congresses. Please! (Except Senator John McCain, who responsibly has led bi-partisan efforts to corral campaign finance, fix immigration, regulate banks, control unrequested military spending and stands up for civil discussion.)

Written by Robert E. Golden, with help from Gary Kent, Gerard Morrisey, Mary Humpton, Brian Chanecka and Patrick A. Golden

Robert E. Golden – Republican, 43 years in Criminal Justice, chair of a Pres. Reagan’s advisory committee(four years), NYS Probation Commission(8 yrs.), Buffalo Diocese Justice and Peace Commission, USArmy, Holy Cross (Jesuit) grad, Masters in Counseling, published CJ articles+

Gary Kent – Ran for NYS Assembly, after serving as an Orleans County Legislator, Social Studies teacher, named “Teacher of Year” twice, Albion Betterment Committee, many community activities, author of numerous published political articles and hundreds of letters to editor.

Gerard Morrisey – Assessor/Appraiser, Hearing Officer in Western New York, business owner, local political guru, Fordham(Jesuit) Univ. grad, life-long Republican, who just resigned his Republican registration, many community activities

Mary Humpton – teacher, guidance counselor, 2 Masters’ in History(Cornell Univ.) and Counseling, numerous community activities, varsity college athlete

Brian Chanecka, librarian, 2 Masters in Comparative Religions and Information Management, historian, world traveler, did a weekly radio show in Tucson, AZ. Democrat who supports Ann Kirkpatrick for US Senate. and supports an “open border” between all nations, even as Pres. Reagan said he hoped for an open border between the US and Mexico, with people going back and forth freely.

Patrick A. Golden – Sr. Analyst with NYS Legislature, Parish Representative on Albany Diocese Social Justice Council, Graduate of St. Bonaventure (Franciscan) College, Masters in Economics, past analyst with NYS Better Business Bureau. Democrat