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historically speaking

One of the big issues in politics right now is cost of college and student debt. Among the Democrats running for president, some are calling for free college and others are looking to pay off student loans. There is some history on this subject, but there is also some personal history. Loans are something I know too well.

When American soldiers came home from WWI, they had a difficult time rejoining their old lives. With so many men coming home at once, it was difficult finding a job as factories were cutting production after the war. Many others found their jobs filled by black Americans who moved north during the Great Migration from the south.

To help relieve some of the suffering, Congress passed the Bonus Act of 1924, giving soldiers a $1.25 bonus for every day they served. The problem was the payment was deferred to 1945. In the midst of the Great Depression, 15,000 veterans marched on Washington, demanding their bonuses, known as the Bonus Army. When Congress denied their appeal, most of the “Army” returned home, but those who remained were driven out by the U.S. Army. President Hoover claimed they had been infiltrated by communists and anarchists.

With World War II, Roosevelt wanted to do better for the current soldiers at war and the G.I. Bill was born. Among other things, the G.I. Bill paid for college for returning veterans. For the first time in our nation’s history, working class Americans could afford to attend college. By the mid-1950s into the 1960s, almost half of college students were using the G.I. Bill.

In the 1960s came the space race, and the federal government decided we were lagging behind the Russians in school and made education a priority. The National Science Foundation alone gave $500 million to pay for education, especially in STEM fields.

Today higher education is still as important, but also incredibly expensive. It seems as if universities are raising costs each year. There are many reasons for this that I do not have time to explore. Some are positive, some are not. Uncle Sam can still foot the bill with the G.I. paying for college if you are willing to serve in the military. But for many low-and middle-class citizens, the cost of college is becoming not worth the return.

One of the problems I see today is the need to attend large state universities. I understand the appeal. I earned my Master’s and Ph.D. from such schools and I loved the atmosphere of these schools, especially during football season. Yet when I hear complaints about the cost of schools, I question why students are not looking at other options. This is going to seem like an advertisement for my school, but it just happens to be a good example. I know not having a football team in Oklahoma seems like heresy, but I teach at a small public liberal arts university that is much cheaper and has a smaller student body and class sizes. Also, all our classes are taught by professors, not grad students, and we focus on undergraduate research. Yet the large universities are full and turning away students while we have room for more.

When it comes to government interference with college, I am of two minds. Free college does not seem fiscally possible for the government.  As for loans, when the borrowers took them, they knew they had to pay them back, just like any other transaction. Yet now that I have a senior in high school, I am starting to see the college experience in a different light from my almost twenty of years of being a professor.

A little personal history. I have a son starting his senior year and, like many of you, is starting the process of applying to colleges. What a pain! My son has autism. He is intelligent and high functioning, but his special needs limit our college options. We need a college near family that also has the program he wants. Though he has three sets of grandparents who each live by small colleges that would work, only the one in southern Utah has the program.

I have three children. I work at an amazing but small university while my wife is a public-school teacher, so basically, I have always told my children they needed to earn scholarships to pay for college. I am lucky to have great kids who take their schooling seriously. My senior has done everything that could be expected of him, even with difficulties. He has a 4.2 GPA, is a standout on the academic team, takes A.P. and college classes, and is even an Eagle Scout. I felt we were covered for a smaller regional school like the one in Utah. Yet what I found out is that scholarships are rewarded based solely on his GPA (they only accept up to 4.0) and the dreaded ACT. Again, my son put in due diligence on this test. He took a prep class, had some private tutoring, and did all the online practicing, yet all three times he took the test he did not score high enough. His individual subject scores went up and down, but when he went up in one area, he went down in another. If they took the top scores from each subject (which they don’t), he would receive a full scholarship, but as it stands right now he only qualifies for in-state tuition. He has done everything in his power, everything that can be expected of him. But because of one test, academic scholarships are off the table.

This is not meant to be a sob story; my life is no different than most out there who work hard and try to do what’s best for our kids. What it does tell me is that some change is needed. Not sure what those are, but we have to stop weighing down our kids with a financial burden of debt just as they are preparing to start their lives. I am not saying government should take care of everything. There is something to the idea of college students earning their own way and taking matters more seriously if they have a stake. Yet I have also experienced too many good students fall behind or drop out because they were simply working so hard to pay for school that they could not keep up with their academic load. Historically speaking, there are times the government has stepped in to assist or regulate. Maybe now is another time, like the 1940s and 1960s, we can reemphasize the need for education and make some changes.


Dr. James Finck is an Associate Professor of History at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma and Chair of the Oklahoma Civil War Symposium. Follow Historically Speaking at www.Historicallyspeaking.blog or Facebook at @jamesWfinck.

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Editor replies to Kushner’s criticism and perspective on what a newspaper should be

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Mr. Kushner has always taken my replies, clarifications, whatever you want to call them, personally. I have told him more than once, they are not personal, but simply an editorial reaction to his presenting his opinions as facts, particularly when those opinions advance a partisan political ideology. It is a policy not reserved for him alone, but done on any Letter to the Editor sent to me for review that presents opinions as facts in any context. I’ve found on most occasions when explained that it is the wording presentation, rather than the expression of an opinion I might personally agree or disagree with, the writer is willing to reword to avoid confusion, and in some cases potential libel or slander liability which this paper will not risk. Mr. Kushner has made it clear he does not appreciate his submissions being suggested for rewording, particularly by me, so that course is not pursued. Hence, responses for clarification such as the one tied to his open letter to Joe Manchin.

And may I point out that while Mr. Kushner’s personal sense of “his space” on our editorial page may be offended by it, attaching an editorial response to reader submissions when necessary is not an unprecedented Opinion page methodology, though in a virtual world it may bear rethinking. And actually, I liked the separate, adjacent reply with its own headline better than the originally submitted editorial note at the end of his letter. But there was certainly no “scurrilous attempt” to conceal the response from him – but “paranoia does strike deep; into your heart, it will creep” (a musical nod to The Buffalo Springfield’s ‘For What It’s Worth’)

Let me begin where Mr. Kushner ended his 2214-word commentary on my 4-point reply to his Manchin letter, with his closing accusation that my belief system, which I have attempted to accurately represent below, as opposed to his negative stereotyping, doesn’t reflect “the majority conservative perspective of our community” and should perhaps disqualify me from continued employment at Royal Examiner.

I will say that my publisher and I, while we may not always agree on the national political scene, agree that our job, the job of any responsible newspaper, is not to represent a community’s majority political opinion, nor anyone else’s, as truth, but rather to accurately report what we cover, and ask appropriate questions to give context, motive, and any other relevant aspects to governmental and citizen initiatives and actions impacting the community. If we feel it necessary to deliver an opinion, it is so identified.

To bend reporting to reflect a majority’s, or minority’s for that matter, partisan political ideology is commonly known as “propaganda”. And in many totalitarian societies, such partisan ideology promotion masquerades as “news”.

Verbally and in writing, Mr. Kushner tends to present his highly partisan political opinions as objective facts. Consequently, on the letter-writing side, it has fallen to me in an editorial role to point out where his opinions and objectively supportable facts may clash. Since Mr. Kushner seems not to believe in any truth outside his partisan ideological perspective, that has brought us into conflict. And since we have personally talked enough about our relative socio-political perceptions for him to have developed a not entirely accurate perception of my politics, Mr. Kushner attributes political motive to my editorial comments on his letters.

As to Mr. Kushner’s assumptions about my belief system, let me say that I do not give blanket approval to social welfare programs not thought out to balance the “general Welfare” and the national economic means to achieve that welfare. Let me also say, I do not believe everyone or even a majority in need of social welfare are lazy people, often stereotyped as a specific race, seeking a free ride on the backs of hard-working people. I might add that Democratic Administrations are not the only ones to operate at a budget deficit, and Republicans generally manage to create their deficits without the variable of social safety net programs vilified as “free rides for the lazy”.

Let me reiterate several points I have made to Mr. Kushner verbally in the past, several of which he continues to ignore:

1 – I am a political independent, and have never been registered to ANY political party, in my life. I have not been a fan of either the Republican or Democratic Party national hierarchies since the 1970’s when I studied Political Science as an elective in gaining a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology, with credits for a minor in Psychology from VCU. All three of those disciplines, I believe, gave me an excellent perspective to eventually end up in the field of journalism and political governmental beat reporting.

2 – My socio-political perspective guiding my personal beliefs is that a person must balance personal liberty with social responsibility to their neighbors, and to the nation as a whole. No, I don’t believe in unnecessary governmental influence in one’s personal business conducted at home or on private property. However, when one’s personal business is taken into the streets, into the general population, how behaviors impact others must be a concern of every citizen. People who couldn’t accept that standard, I believe used to be called hermits – because at least they had the courtesy to take their anti-social tendencies away from the society they did not want to be a part of.

3 – And yes, I do believe the wealthy, the truly rich, should be taxed more than the middle and lower classes to support general welfare and other governmental programs to a national and collective good because they can afford it.

Does that make Roger – OH, SHIVER-SHIVER – a progressive socialist philosophically aligned with leftist “demons” like Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders? Perhaps, though I have recently created a new political category for myself to explain conflicting perceptions of what I believe socially and politically. I have declared myself the first “Conservative Anarchist” – at least I think I’m the first.

What is the Conservative Anarchist ideology, you may ask: It means that while I don’t believe in any societal rules to limit my behavior, I don’t believe in breaking the existing rules either – hence, Conservative Anarchy.

That said, as to Mr. Kushner’s objection to my first point on the opening paragraph of the U.S. Constitution’s reference to “promote the general Welfare” as a fourth and “final” specific goal in establishing the rationale for the Constitution guiding the American nation while leaving out “and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity” I will admit to looking at that final phrase differently than the four preceding it. That difference to my mind was the more general nature of the reference to “Blessings of Liberty” – Liberty from what, the British Crown and British taxes? Or perhaps from a notion 200-odd years later that an effort to minimize rampant domestic mass murder incidents by instituting legal controls on who could own and in what social settings firearms, hand-held semi-automatic weapons in particular (which didn’t exist in 1787), could be publicly carried?

Regardless of your perspective on that 21st-century liberty issue, it seemed to me that “Justice” (treat everybody fairly by a set legal standard), “domestic Tranquility” (a social expectation of general livability), “common defense” (an organized central defensive force), and “general Welfare” (survivable living conditions for the general population) were all more specific and easily identified references, while “Blessings of Liberty” was a more general end result of the previous four. If mistaken, I apologize. But I ask, how in 1787 might the Founding Fathers of the American experiment in democratically based representative government have viewed personal liberty issues of the 21st century? Since they’re not here to ask, we can only guess and express opinions, so here is mine:

Somehow I doubt it would be the “Me First/Every Man for Himself” personal liberties outlook of the late 20th and early 21st centuries that would arbitrarily judge an individual’s right to act their opinions out in a public context, above the group’s right to collective survival. Particularly with their introductory concerns about insuring “domestic Tranquility” and promoting “the general Welfare” – their capitalizations – I doubt the Founding Fathers would share the modern Sovereign Citizen or Libertarian perspectives on securing “the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity”.

And that IS my opinion based on readings about them, and the written words of some of them on their collective desire for the new American nation to strive toward a more perfect union, including the final line of the Declaration of Independence in which the signees, some wealthy landowners: “mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor” in support of the creation of the new, independent nation” outside control of the British government they were about to go to war with.

And as to Mr. Kushner’s lengthy analysis of presidential election results, congressional majorities, and minorities, and legislative mandates I will say a few things:

In addition to gaining the White House by a nearly 7-million vote majority in 2020, the Democrats currently have working majorities in both houses of Congress, despite the gains Republicans made in the House in 2020 – This isn’t advanced math, Gary, a bigger minority (in the House of Representatives) is STILL a minority. So, it would appear that currently, the Democrats do have a legislative majority, coupled with a president, elected by the American people with which to forward proposals reflecting their socio-political agenda, just as Republicans do when they have the majority.

And in my opinion, Mr. Kushner’s level of outrage at that thought appears to reflect an increasing tendency of the American political right to stereotype people and legislation they disagree with as fundamentally “evil”, often in a religious context, and allied with shadowy figures of darkness like Communism, the Chinese (also Communists), Dr. Fauci and the medical establishment, or perhaps Satan himself, rather than simply Americans with differing social and political perspectives with whom one can negotiate toward a resolution regarding costs and details for a common American good.

Is believing in and striving toward an economically elevated common good such a sin?

Should people who believe in legislatively lending a helping hand to the less fortunate among us be characterized as shadow communists, or on a more fundamental level, evil? I don’t know, maybe we should reference the historical record of the teachings of Jesus for an answer. And while Jesus didn’t lobby for governmental legislation “to sell your possessions and give to the poor” he did threaten the withholding of heaven from those who failed to follow his instructions, and there were many given in this regard.

And on the subject of “Saviors”, including self-anointed ones, as to the rightful occupant of the White House, we’re back to square one with Mr. Kushner: “There is irrefutable evidence that voting activities occurred in 2020 in several states that were inconsistent with procedures approved by their legislatures which resulted in illegal votes that could have influenced the election outcome,” he wrote.

Opinion, Gary, not fact.

And in my editorial opinion, one verified by every court review – was it 30? – often overseen by Republican-appointed judges, and reported by reputable news sources (to some degree anyway, as opposed to online conspiracy websites) the only verified 2020 electoral fraud found by any court, or legitimate recount in any state, as I understand the reports, amounted to 12 votes here, 30 votes there, and the like – the type of individual pathological behavior fraud that occurs in every election, but not an organized institutional fraud in the numbers to have changed any state’s presidential result in 2020.

So, no matter how many places you read it, Gary – NO, the ghosts of Manuel Noriega and Fidel Castro did not rise up into 2020 voting machines to “white-out” – that’s the technology those ghosts would understand, isn’t it?!? – millions of Trump voters. Didn’t happen – and that IS my opinion, but one based in a factual, not an “alternate factual”, universe.

And while I have a hunch, you won’t agree no matter how many state courts and state legislatures contradict your opinion, I think we have both sufficiently made our respective cases – and will just have to agree to disagree.

Consequently, I have editorially recommended that publication of our conflicting perspectives on reality and journalism end here.

 

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Pandemic Vaccine Si, Pandemic Vaccine No

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No one can really deny knowing what is going on around the world as the Covid-19 (and its variants) Pandemic continue to tighten their grip. Everyone in North America who reads a newspaper, watches television, uses a computer or talks to a friend knows about the division of American society over use of existing vaccine as a preventive mechanism against the Covid-19 disease and its dangerous variants.

When I first commented in the Blog/Newsletter on the Pandemic (August of 2020), the scourge was overcoming American and worldwide medical capability – resulting in illness and death rates not seen in over 100 years (including wars). Now, thanks be to God and tremendous efforts by healthcare workers and many others devoted to keeping us all going in spite of disease, we have several vaccines which have proven again and again to be effective in 1/ preventing the disease; and 2/ if a “breakthrough” case should happen, lessen the severity and increase the survivability of illness.

Yet, a huge portion of American society (at this writing – virtually half of U.S. adult population) currently refuses to take the vaccination even if they are “health-qualified”. I find this personally frustrating and terribly disappointing because my wife (known to many readers – Bryane Miller Lickson) cannot take the vaccination for valid health reasons. So, now she is in Day 521 of a self-imposed lock-in. When we do go out to shop, bank etc., she and I are both masked.

The other morning, I was listening and watching the news on television. A young woman in Alabama was interviewed and she expressed her view that vaccination was not necessary. She was 22 years old and, in very good health (in her opinion). She saw absolutely no reason to take the vaccine. Many people – especially in the U.S. – and other countries where vaccines are plentiful – are wrestling over a decision:

Vaccine – Si or Vaccine No.

Credible scientific sources have said many times at the highest levels of government and public health (including my own Alma Mater – Johns Hopkins) that the vaccines are both safe and effective. But there are people also all over the world and very out-spoken here in the U.S. who would make a two-pronged argument against taking the jab. They would assert 1/ that they have heard that the vaccines are not only not helpful, but may cause serous long term negative side effects – both physical and psychological. 2/ And they argue also that no one is going to compel them to take a vaccine.

A good and very bright female friend of both Bryane and me went on to say: “If you can compel one to take a vaccine, we can no longer call ourselves a democracy.” The case against compelling the vaccine reflects in many minds, the issue of freedom of choice – a freedom that they hold dear. In the United States, this includes half the adult population – not yet vaccinated and probably many people who have been vaccinated at least once.

Those of us who also hold that freedom dear, but also hold that human life has a dear value, would hope and maybe even plead for the U.S. to get as many people vaccinated as quickly as we can. Medical and legal evidence is clear; without vaccination – maybe even by compelling it as many employers, schools and others do, we won’t win this battle – very possibly the biggest battle (including war) we will ever face.

As pointed out by Professor Lawrence Gostin of Georgetown Law (my law school alma mater) speaking about the possible clash between health and human rights – Gostin is an accepted expert on both Public Health and the Law – He has said the greatest value offered by government here or abroad is equity. He is quoted on the Smerconish CNN TV Show and Blog: “We need heath that is fairly allocated to everybody – health with justice.”

It is a fact that so far the courts have upheld the ability of a private company and even school districts to compel vaccination. The only exceptions that have so far been recognized, have been acceptable religious or valid health reasons not to vaccinate.

Several states have tried to limit the legal right of private companies to compel vaccination. Laws banning compulsion to vaccinate or offer proof of vaccination have been routinely over-ruled. It may be that the very survivability of life is at stake here. I’m afraid that many so-called “patriots” do not recognize the crisis the Pandemic has presented.

This Newsletter is about opinion, so, my opinion is: While I have great respect for our freedom of choice here in America, I value the continuation of human life in this country. I think – wish it were not so – that compulsion may be required and must be considered to force Covid vaccination or ban people from many positions, cruises, schools and maybe in serving in the military or other government service.

Charles P. Lickson
Front Royal, Virginia


(Charles P. Lickson, President of LALO, is a former practicing attorney turned mediator and writer He has stated his opinion here and invites reasoned opinions from readers. If you have something to say about the Pandemic or another subject – which might cause us some “conflict of choice”, please send your thoughts to: Webmaster@lalopublishing.com) First appeared in Lickson’s “Ironing Out Newsletter”)

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Reaction to Roger Bianchini’s July 26 editorial notes

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I consider Mr. McCool a friend and supported his 2020 candidacy for Front Royal Mayor.  Mr. McCool’s willingness to permit Mr. Bianchini to post editorial opinions that may be inconsistent with his own is a testament to Mr. McCool’s commitment to the First Amendment.

With that said, there is history between Mr. Bianchini and me since we’re on opposite ends of the political spectrum.  On more than one prior occasion he has authored counter perspectives to Letter to the Editor postings I’ve published.  Previously, his editorial comments on my posts were made via a separate and distinct follow-up letter under his name. I acknowledge his right to post viewpoints contrary to mine, however, instead of publishing a separate letter with his editorial comments this time, he chose to attach them at the end of my posted letter.

This technique was unprecedented, and in my opinion, was a scurrilous attempt to discredit my comments without me having an opportunity to promptly rebut them so I voiced a complaint to the Senior Editor and requested that Mr. Bianchini’s response be removed from my posting.  My request was granted and you now see Mr. Bianchini’s comments as a separate post on the Royal Examiner site instead of having been initially attached to my letter.  Having provided this preface, I want to specifically address Mr. Bianchini’s editorial post.

His first comment relates to my assertion that ‘individual freedom’ is a core principle of the Constitution. He references some goals stated in the preamble and focuses particularly on the goal to promote the general welfare and states that the individual freedom text is not specifically referenced. However, he conveniently overlooks the fifth goal, and secure the blessing of liberty…, which is synonymous with individual freedom in my mind, when he claimed there were only four goals.

It’s no coincidence that Mr. Bianchini focuses on the general welfare goal because I think that is consistent with the progressive ideology which has over expansive government at its core, regardless of the ill consequences associated with such a concept and at the expense of individual freedom. My interpretation of Mr. Bianchini’s first comment is that it implies that the massive government social programs expansion in the Reconciliation Bill is intended to further the general welfare promotion goal in the Constitution’s preamble. The problem there is that the advertised cost of the Bill is deceptive in that economists have warned that it is partially paid for with dubious accounting techniques and suspect revenue estimates.

The Bill’s cost has been advertised at 3. 5 trillion dollars but there are sources that project the real cost at over 5 trillion dollars.  This is totally understandable because who can trust numbers from politicians with an unquenchable thirst for spending money others have earned?  This proposed gargantuan spending Bill has been reported to be the largest spending proposal in our history. It is in addition to the trillions of dollars of prior approved Covid spending and more than a trillion dollars proposed for legitimate infrastructure spending under consideration now by Congress.

The Federal budget for 2021 is approximately 4.9 trillion dollars with over 2 trillion expected to be deficit spending. Thus, the Reconciliation Bill would create an economic nightmare.  The public is already witnessing inflation and grossly expanded deficit spending would almost certainly increase inflation.  The country has over 28 trillion dollars of debt and no credible plan exists to address that liability. Our massive debt is being passed to future generations to address and both Parties are responsible.

Throughout history, socialist governments have consistently shown to be abject failures. You might recall that the definition of stupid is ‘doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result’!  Democrats claiming this Bill would promote the general welfare fail to recognize the consistent historical disasters of socialism. The expansion of government that the Reconciliation Bill represents is a substantial transition towards socialism. Socialism is a philosophy alluring in principle but has proved to be unsuccessful in real-world practice.

What is being witnessed in Cuba now is a perfect example of the effects of total government control versus a system based on capitalism and individual freedom.   Isn’t it ironic that the Cuban people are screaming for liberty when freedom is at greater risk in America than ever before?  I heard it said somewhere that, ‘ if socialism is so successful, then why are people attempting to escape it in boats constructed from trash’?

Also, the first ten Constitutional amendments, (Bill of Rights) is a crucial part of our guiding document, and affirm many individual liberties as opposed to the granting of government authority and control.  Readers can judge whether Mr. Bianchini intentionally ignored the sections of the Constitution I referenced above, was a benign oversight, or that he might be blinded by underlying support for a progressive ideology.

Mr. Bianchini’s second comment takes issue with my statement that only half of America voted for Joe Biden.  He reports that Joe Biden registered 7 million more votes than Trump, who in 2016 received 3 million fewer votes than his opponent.  Biden is credited with receiving 51.3% of the November 2020 cast votes, so technically that is only SLIGHTLY more than half.  His comment also changed my fractional reference (half, 1/2) to a digital vote count (apples/oranges), which injects confusion in my opinion, whether intended or not. Mr. Bianchini fails, in what I believe, is an attempt to suggest, that if my comments weren’t 100% accurate then my other arguments should be suspect as well, a tactic he has unsuccessfully employed relative to at least one of my prior Royal Examiner posts. I also see this as a common technique used by Democrats that is infrequently successful in fooling readers.

Democrats rarely give the public the credit it deserves in their commonsense ability to separate misinformation from the truth.  Also, I think he tries to employ the sly tactic of distraction to discredit my statement that Democrats have no mandate in their effort to grossly transform America. The distraction being a shift to referencing other information that doesn’t contradict the reality that Americans voted to expand conservative influence in the House, as I said, regardless that the vote count details he offered were accurate.

In the end, I make no retraction regarding my half of America statement because it is generally correct and logically supports my opinion that Democrats have no mandate for transformative change.   Only a fool or one with a serious bias cannot recognize that capitalism, free markets, and liberty have produced the best quality of life on the planet for people and provide opportunities for everyone to attain their dreams. If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it!

One other factor that is relevant to his second comment is that the 2020 vote count included illegal votes.  Article II, Section I of the Constitution clearly designates election procedure authority as the exclusive domain of state legislatures. Secretaries of states, Governors, and state judges have no election procedures authority that is not legislatively granted.

There is irrefutable evidence that voting activities occurred in 2020 in several states that were inconsistent with procedures approved by their legislatures which resulted in illegal votes that could have influenced the election outcome.

Democrats have repeatedly labeled that as the big lie from the former President with the full-throated support of the biased social and mainstream media who censure conservative opinions and ignore truths that do not support a progressive narrative. It’s a tactic that if something is repeated enough times it can actually influence public perception. I’m doubtful that the 2020 election will be objectively and thoroughly investigated while Democrats maintain control of the Executive and Legislative branches of government because it might undercut their legitimacy.  Also, how odd is it that Democrats obsess on making negative arguments involving the prior President, now out of office for over 6 months, when there are so many failings with the present Administration that are ignored?

Mr. Bianchini’s third comment attempts to diminish the advancements made by Republicans in the House of Representatives in 2020 by shifting the focus to the fact that Republicans are no longer the Senate majority.  The Senate is now comprised of 49 Democrats and 50 Republicans. One Senator from Vermont is not technically in the Democrat party but caucuses with them which results in a 50-50 Senator count. Since Vice President Harris is a Democrat and can vote to break ties, the Democrats function as the Senate majority. Loss of the majority by Republicans in the Senate in no way diminishes their gains in the House of Representatives.

The House of Representatives is called the People’s House because its members are subject to election every 2 years rather than the 6 Year term of Senators. Thus, the House is seen by many political experts to be more reflective of the political leaning of the American public. Had the Democrats made gains in their representation in the House, they would have a better claim to have a mandate, but the opposite is true. Thus, I feel my argument on the issue remains valid.

Mr. Bianchini’s last comment is directed against my criticism of the Democrat’s inclusion of an amnesty provision for illegal aliens in the proposed Reconciliation Bill. He does so indirectly by asserting that the prior Administrations’ immigration policies unfairly limited access without providing evidence.  I’m doubtful any subsequent effort he might make to provide clarification would represent all aspects of the issue but would only attempt to justify a progressive narrative. He goes all-in with the allegation that the prior administration was responsible for immigrants being illegal when the truth is that they are illegal because they don’t adhere to laws that dictate that they present themselves at established border entry points, where adequate staff and resources are available to address asylum applicants rather than anywhere else.

The fact is that the prior Administration instituted policies to enforce existing laws that had been established by both Democrat and Republican governments.  Social and mainstream media bias and control have prevented the general public from being fully informed about the reality of our southern border crisis for political purposes.

While we graciously welcome 1 million legal immigrants into our country each year, we’ve recorded over 1.2 million persons seeking asylum at our southern border already in 2021 at multiple crossing points and evidence exists that most won’t meet the lawful criteria for asylum. That figure doesn’t even reflect the unknown number, termed ‘get aways’, who purposely evaded Border authorities and are now embedded in our communities.

The infamous Wall was not a structure to prevent potential legitimate refugees from attempting legal access to this country but was intended to guide them to staffed entry locations where they could be properly assessed and lawfully processed.

The present Administration has blatantly abandoned its duty to enforce existing immigration law. President Biden terminated international agreements and procedures instituted by the previous Administration that safeguarded America’s sovereignty and protected our citizens.  Biden’s open border policy endangers national security, subjects American citizens to increased criminality, enables drug cartels to expand their influence, and causes a substantial risk to those seeking to immigrate here with assistance from ‘coyotes’ and gangs.

Permitting persons from every country in the world to come across our southern border at any location without adequate controls also introduces unnecessary health risks to Americans at a particularly tenuous time, imposes a significant economic burden, and adds strain to our education system which already has enough challenges.

Granting amnesty to all illegal aliens in this country would amount to rewarding them for their disrespect of our laws, encourage more illegal immigration and present a tax burden to existing citizens who would have to fund social programs those new citizens would qualify for. The unprecedented number of new asylum seekers caused by candidate Biden’s invitation gives foreign criminals free rein to smuggle drugs and undesirables into our country.

Fentanyl smuggled from China has dramatically spiked overdoses which have killed tens of thousands of Americans.  It is logical to deduce that Democrats are willing to accept all the shortcomings of the southern border crisis because of the potential for future election benefits.  It’s shameful that the Democrat party doesn’t seem to be as concerned about existing citizens as they are about people from other countries, but expanding their political power seems to be their priority.

Considering all the shortcomings with Mr. Bianchini’s response to my letter to Senator Manchin that I’ve brought to light here, I’ll carefully scrutinize any editorial comments or news reporting published by him in the future. I’m convinced his July 26 posting purposefully intended to sow doubt in the accuracy of the arguments made in my July 25 post because it was inconsistent with his political beliefs when my comments here demonstrate that his reaction is what actually qualifies as misinformation.

However, I do want to applaud him though for his transparency, in my opinion, by so boldly clarifying his support of progressive ideology which I believe conflicts with the majority conservative perspective of our community. Additionally, I hope Mr. McCool gives greater scrutiny to Mr. Bianchini’s editorials in the future when they may not fully represent the opinions of his online media and potentially damage his standing in the community.

Gary Kushner
Bentonville, VA

 

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Thank you, Royal Examiner

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Thank you, Mike McCool, owner, and the staff of the Royal Examiner for allowing explanatory comments on the Gary Kushner Open Letter to Senator Joe Manchin. With the information Roger Bianchini provided, the matter became an educational opportunity. I appreciate the service, given the number of issues and the abundance of words on each issue confronting us daily. That volume of words makes it difficult to impossible to keep up with government issues.

Special appreciation for the fact that my attention can now be focused upon the issue as a result, rather than the person or persons who write letters. It seems to me that the point should be problem solving for the benefit of our society, which does require learning the issue itself, and understanding the effects of decisions made by governmental units.

Linda Allen
Former Front Royal resident

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Opinion

An Open Letter to Council and our Community – Small Town Charm or City Hustle? 

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Though many emails were sent to our Town Management speaking against the proposed Special Events matrix system, the special event permit proposal has only slightly been adapted from its over-the-top initial draft.

We are still looking at bureaucratic paperwork requiring information beyond the business of the Town Manager’s department for an event permit. Event organizers must choose between a grand event or a social blip and then wade through detailed explanations describing their worthiness to host an event that will attract high-spending tourists and appease a tourism influenced check-list.

Locals have not been offered a simple amplification permit nor a simple community event permit; we are still looking at a subjective matrix and multiple hoops to hop.

At the July 12 work session, integrity was thrown off the table when the recommendation was to manipulate numbers to achieve permit approval and/or ignore the Code of Conduct. Relying on the goodwill of our Law Enforcement to not enforce the Code was also an option.

Where does the line stop? Isn’t any manipulation too much? Why make laws that you then encourage to be broken?

My mind has been blown on this one.

I was chastised by Town personnel for not communicating my concerns and questions with the Town Manager’s office, yet the last two emails I sent to the same personnel with questions and concerns have been unanswered. At this point, anyone who has followed this Special Events Permit process knows my concerns; the Town Management office is no exception.

The concerns brought forward by myself and others on June 28 have been largely ignored. I know I am not the only one. Over the past two months, emails have been sent. Citizens and business owners have expressed their concerns at the hearings. In-person discussions have also taken place. We are being heard but not listened to. Band-aid fixes encased in catchy phrases promising streamlined objectivity and community benefit are passed out with smiles yet the problem persists. What could have been managed efficiently, practically, and in a timely manner has instead been complicated disproportionately for the Town’s needs. Summer is almost over, and the community has missed out on all sorts of fun community might-have-been downtown activity.

Perhaps, Council should be asking:

  • Outside of increasing tourism numbers, how does this matrix system benefit the community?
  • Is increasing tourism, beyond the natural flow we traditionally experience, really a benefit to our community (infrastructure, water, sewage, electric grid, taxes, public safety, general well-being, inflation, town character)?
  • How can the matrix system with all its bureaucratic paperwork benefit local event organizers?
    • Extensive paperwork and the matrix scoring is a deterrent to anyone venturing through the process let alone be approved for a small-medium creative event.
  • Why is tourism influencing community events?
    • No other town around us has such an extreme application system. Community events are encouraged and easily accessible. Why is something so simple being made so difficult?
  • Why does the Town Manager need to know our budget, management experience, past event successes, estimated tourism numbers, projected revenue, corporate backing, marketing, production, projected dollar expenditure by tourists and locals, target market, and after action report on event success in order to approve an event permit?
    • Experience points to bureaucratic micro-managing and catering to a different agenda other than community.

It is very likely this complicated matrix system will be approved on Monday, and the Town Code / Ordinances updated accordingly. This proposal is not good for Community events nor does it encourage Community creativity, development, and character – the very things that give this community the small-town charm that pulls tourists back; no one has been willing to show me otherwise though I’m begging to be shown.

Please come on Monday, July 26 (7 p.m.) to the Council’s regular meeting at the WCGC. The more faces in the crowd, the more reminder that the community is present and listening.

I am very disappointed in our Town Management and the blind refusal to put Community before Tourism. Tourism as the golden carrot takes a toll on our taxes, infrastructure, and Town character. Yes, some businesses and Town revenue will flourish above average, but the average taxpayer will see no benefit other than traffic, inflated prices, strange faces, and more taxes. We are the Town of Front Royal. Sharing our beauty and charm with visitors is wonderful; handing it to visitors on a platter over the heads of the community for the sake of dollars is a travesty. Where will this end?

The final vote for approval occurs this Monday, July 26 unless Council intentionally stops, listens, thinks, and demands full answers. They must not accept sound-bite responses. The problem is bigger than a dance recital or a fun festival.

Stop. Listen. Think.

Sincerely,

Annie Guttierrez
Front Royal, Virginia

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Opinion

Editorial notes on several of Mr. Kushner’s assertions

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1 – Regarding social welfare programs pushed by Democrats: “A core principle of the Constitution is individual freedom.” – While “individual freedom” is not mentioned in the introductory paragraph of the U.S. Constitution, “promote the general Welfare” is the fourth and final goal listed after “establish Justice”, “insure domestic Tranquility” and “provide for a common defense”.

2 – re: “only half of America elected President Biden” – half plus 7 million, as opposed to the minus-3 million popular vote deficit Mr. Trump “won” the presidency by in 2016.

3 – re: “Americans chose to expand Conservative influence in the House of Representatives” – but they remained in the minority there; Republicans have lost their majority in the Senate.

4 – re: “provide amnesty to millions of illegal aliens” – Many refugee/immigrants traveling to the U.S. southern border during the Trump Administration became “illegals” due to policy initiatives put in place at the border which needlessly halted and held up the legal entry method and route for weeks, if not longer. So, many of these “illegals” were created by Trump Administration policies making legal entry nearly impossible.)

Roger Bianchini
Royal Examiner

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