Is America still a country of laws?

By: Mike McClary
Published by:∫ Culpeper Star-Exponent
Date Published: December 30, 2017

David McCullough, in his excellent biography of John Adams, who was one of those whose ideas were enshrined in the Constitution, discusses how the founding fathers constructed their vision of government. One of the seminal ideas to the balance of power of the three branches of government was the conviction that the country would be ruled by laws of reason. They rebelled against a government that was capriciously ruled by the monarchy and the oligarchs of the East India and Virginia Companies, and they sought something different.

Each subsequent generation accepted the ideal that America was a country of laws, without fear or favor, not a country subject to whims and fads of the moment. In recent months we have witnessed a stunning abdication of commitment by government to the ideal that America is a country of laws and that each man stands equally before the law. Donald Trump’s attempts to derail the Russian collusion investigation is the primary example of this. In May, Trump fired FBI Director Comey because Comey would not abrogate his duties and responsibilities under the Constitution for a pledge of personal loyalty to Trump. Today, every effort is being made to criticize, deride, undermine and compromise Special Prosecutor Mueller’s investigation. The Republicans, in strident chorus, declare that Mueller should be fired. This is in marked contrast to the seven different hearings/investigations that consumed Congress over Benghazi, or the thousand days of Kenneth Starr’s investigation of Bill Clinton’s transgressions. The hypocrisy is appalling. Trump criticizes his own judicial and intelligence departments and organizations that the taxpayers have paid good money for, over decades. Suddenly, in his ill-informed opinion, they are not satisfactory. After firing the leadership, his latest target is the whole of the FBI, demeaning its professionalism and patriotism. If America’s top law enforcement agency is deemed inadequate, to whom do we turn for justice? The irrational whims of Donald Trump?

To read the entire article, click HERE.

A Good Deal for the Common Man?

By: David Reuther
Published by: Culpeper Star-Exponent 
Date Published: December 17, 2017

I grew up in the West.  Every family vacation, we would collect our gear and head off to the National Parks.  We camped and explored the incredible beauty and majesty of Yosemite, Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Zion, and others.  Along the way, we took in lessons on geology, geography, and read roadside markers which told the history of the states we passed through.  We were proud that all Americans could visit these sights.  

Our National Park System is truly a national treasure.  Its development was championed by great photographers like Ansel Adams and railroad posters that still show up on Antiques Roadshow.  A long line of presidents from Teddy Roosevelt to Barack Obama added to its splendor.  The exquisite travelogue and historical essay, “The National Parks: America’s Best Idea,” the Ken Burns series broadcast in 2009 reminded us of this heritage.

In early November, the Board of Supervisors voted on a Culpeper Tourism sponsored resolution opposing a recently announced increase in Shenandoah National Park entrance fees.  The peak season fee increase for Shenandoah was 280%.  An additional sixteen other National Park properties would also see a significant hike in their entrance fees.

 

To read the entire article, click HERE.

Robbing the poor to pay the rich

By: Mike McClary
Published by: Culpeper Star-Exponent
Date Published: December 3, 2017

To many of us, Robin Hood was one of our childhood heroes, whether our parents read us the stories, or we watched swashbuckling Errol Flynn in the movies. We loved the Sherwood Forest bandit who stole from the rich and gave to the poor. The tale has marked overtones of Christian charity, as well as the triumph of good over evil.

We are on the cusp of a great overhauling of the American tax code, conceived by one party in secret, with no public hearings, no debate, and it is being rushed to a vote in a Republican-dominated Congress with a Republican in the White House desperate for some legislation to sign. This is the story of Robin Hood in reverse, where Prince John and the Sheriff of Nottingham are robbing the poor to pay the rich.

 To read the entire article, click HERE.