Letters to the Editor for Feb. 23, 2017

Camas Cemetery needs improvements

I was interested in the article regarding the City of Camas planning to develop the “Dead Lake” area into another recreation park at a goodly sum of money. We already have a number of hiking trails, facilities for boating, biking, swimming, picnicking, skating, plus ballfields that are used seasonally — but are kept in pristine condition all year. Has it ever occurred to them that the cemetery is also a park? But a forgotten park.

One employee is expected to keep the expanding area mowed, trimmed headstones cleaned of debris, along with selling plots and cremation urns, digging new graves and setting up canopies for services, just a few of the responsibilities. A few churches come to help with some of the responsibilities, however there needs to be more help than they can offer.

Those who plan projects for Camas should meet at the cemetery and look around. They will find weeds as big as dinner plates overlapping each other, and grass and weeds making it hard to even find your grave site. The cemetery is the final resting place of generations of people who have helped the City of Camas to be developed into the prosperous city that it is today, plus many veterans that served the country (some that lost their lives) to keep the country safe. The cemetery is used all year, while the ballparks are seasonal. The ones making the decisions — priorities — might well find their final resting place at the cemetery. So, make it a priority, not an eyesore.

Belva Baz, Camas

Reactions to president’s actions

The last six months have revealed amazing cultural changes in our country. I say revealed because I know these sorts of changes take place over generations, not mere years. And yet now, in so short a time frame, radical- perhaps even fundamental- changes have become visible. It’s like the face of a dam that suddenly shows appalling cracks. We suspect that the structural integrity was being eroded for a long time, but the damage has only recently become obvious.

In my grandparents’ day, a candidate for elected office wouldn’t have even been considered if he or she had ever been divorced. That may have been extreme, an example of falling off the horse on the other side. But how is it that a 70-year old man who still needs to publicly brag of extra-marital sexual exploits (consensual or not) was considered fit to serve as President of the United States?

How is it that a culture that pays lip service to ‘the pen is mightier than the sword’ and ‘a gentle answer turneth away wrath’ can elevate a vulgar, self-aggrandizing, posturer to be our representative to the world?

A single generation ago, Trump’s gambling investments would have excluded him from consideration. Do we really want leaders who exploit the vices of their fellow citizens for their bread and butter? What does that foretell of his alcohol- or tobacco-related or consumer-protection sensibilities? I don’t care what platform he claims to espouse if he lives the way he does.

Then there’s the whole ‘rule of law’ idea. If he wouldn’t adhere to the debate guidelines his own team negotiated, how will he treat the legal limits of his elected office? When he glibly answered in a debate that he would only support a ‘favorable’ vote of the people, few seemed to appreciate how terrifying his statement was. He certainly showed no appreciation for his historical context.

Have we become so cynical about politics that we honestly believe that nothing of significance can happen? It doesn’t matter who we elect, after all, if nothing ever changes, right?

Now that he’s in office, people are signing petitions and protesting his actions. Really, who was surprised by any of this? He boasted of breaking faith with and suing dozens of business partners. He was proud of twisting legal loopholes and betraying trust as though this were healthy and normal. The geopolitical equivalent of a lawsuit is warfare. Don’t we get this?

That a man would systematically insult and demean the leaders of all our allies leaves the rest of the world aghast. And yet, isn’t it perfectly consistent with his campaign speeches and Twitter posts?

But people are amazed. Surprised. Alarmed. Stunned. The presidency doesn’t sanctify or confer sainthood on anyone. He lived among us for decades, a caricature of flamboyant egotism and unprincipled greed. The neon writing was on the wall. What did people think they were getting?

I’m frankly astonished that people are astonished.

John Dunn, Camas

Editorial cartoon generates questions

I enjoyed the cartoon in the 2/9/17 Post-Record Opinion section. The caricature of the President was quite expressive, and accurately reflects some of the tension appearing in American society today.

I would be interested to know what the artist’s actual intent was, though. Was it a message in support of #neverTrumpers? Or was it a message to entertain Trump supporters with a list of what they might call “media fake news” items? Seems to me the cartoon can be read either way.

Lee Howard, Washougal

Gun rights are in the State Constitution

Those folks in Washington State who are opposed to private ownership of semi-automatic firearms with detachable magazines, which they themselves often helpfully define as proper military weapons, have a state constitutional problem. All the while dodging the fact that the Washington state RTKBA provision is explicitly protective of the right of individual citizens to possess so-called assault weapons. In Article I, Section 24, of the Washington Constitution, the right of the citizen to possess military-type arms is literally hiding in plain-view:

“The right of the individual citizen to bear arms in defense of himself, or the state, shall not be impaired, but nothing in this section shall be construed as authorizing individuals or corporations to organize, maintain or employ an armed body of men.”

The part most relevant, to the ill-conceived assault weapons ban, is this: “The right of the individual citizen to bear arms in defense of . . . the state, shall not be impaired . . .”

Washington’s RTKBA provision, unlike the 2nd Amendment, has no controversial ‘well-regulated militia’ clause by which the AG could argue the right only belongs to those citizen ‘actively serving’ in the state militia. Therefore, it is unclear how those who propose to adopt a complete ban on civilian ownership of the very type of arms most suited to defend the state, if and when needed, would pass constitutional muster.

The very purpose of Article I, Section 24 is to prohibit the state legislature from doing exactly what it is that the AG is now currently proposing. If Washington’s RTKBA clause meant anything, it meant to prohibit exactly such a scenario. Someone ought to point the obvious out to Bob Ferguson. His proposed ban directly conflicts with the state constitution and he ought to explain to the citizenry why he thinks the state constitution doesn’t say what it says. If the AG doesn’t like that, too bad, the solution is to amend the state constitution.

Washington is not alone. Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming also have similar constitutional provisions protecting the right of their respective citizens to keep arms for defense of the state.

Article I, Section 24’s bearing arms for ‘defense of state’ is an individual citizen’s enumerated right for goodness sakes! Advocates will defend the ban but make no mistake, the appellate and state supreme courts really have no other alternative but to strictly adhere to the plain text of the state constitution.

Not withstanding the constitutional questions raised, the AG office appears to actually understand the proposed legislation is in violation. In response to my FOIA request was the following buried in an email; “In the definition of assault weapon, we have removed a semi automatic rifle that has a barrel shroud. This was not in other states’ definition, and was added to capture the “California compliant” Ares Defense SCR semiautomatic rifle. Ultimately, we decided including the barrel shroud would encompass too many traditional hunting style rifles.”

Every modern rifle produced today has a stock or forearm that meets the definition of shroud as it is written in the proposed legislation. This language was not removed from the bill as stated, and as such will effectively eradicate all retail and private sale of EVERY semi-automatic rifle in production today, and most semi-automatic handguns and the tax base that is derived from them. This language deceit is the same tactic former Senator now Mayor Murray attempted with his safe storage legislation. The Senator then claiming ignorance when it was pointed out his legislation did not pass constitutional muster. Yet he attempted this twice and each time professed ignorance claiming he did not know it was in the bill.

The economic impact of this legislation is immeasurable and far reaching. It will affect every retailer and sportsman who buy arms, ammunition, licenses, and equipment.

The Wildlife Restoration Act, commonly known as the Pittman-Robertson Act provides funding for habitat management and restoration. Funds are derived from an 11 percent federal excise tax on sporting arms, ammunition, and archery equipment and a 10 percent tax on handguns. Loss of these funds would severely impact any wildlife management or habitat restoration.

The Wildlife Restoration Account provides funding for four grant programs (Wildlife Restoration, Multi-state Conservation, North American Wetlands Conservation Program, and Firearm and Bow Hunter Education and Safety Program) as authorized by Congress. Interest earned on the Wildlife Restoration Account goes to the North American Wetlands Conservation Fund, while reverted Wildlife Restoration funds are deposited into the Migratory Bird Conservation Fund. The Wildlife Restoration Account does not require appropriations language because there is permanent authority to use the receipts in the account in the fiscal year following their collection.

The Pittman-Robertson Act granted $7,264,229.00 to Washington State in 2013.

The argument isn’t bad people don’t obey laws so don’t have laws, it’s bad people don’t obey laws so 1) don’t try regulating law abiding people to try and alter their behavior and 2) laws impacting bad people will practically be limited to punishing them after the fact for the sake of punishment. 3) Stop criminalizing people who aren’t doing bad things to other people, as it usually ends badly, with tax payers footing the bill. In the words of Bob Ferguson, “I said from the beginning, it is not the loudest voice that prevails in the courtroom. It’s the Constitution.”

Whitney Slater, Poulsbo

Local resident appreciates Medicare Advantage

A longtime Washingtonian, I have benefited from having Medicare Advantage for a number of years. Offering more health and preventive services than normal Medicare, Medicare Advantage has truly been a great resource for me — and I’m far from the only one.

In fact, I am one of over 360,000 Washingtonians who have opted in to Medicare Advantage. Medicare Advantage gives me the chance to take advantage of the facilities at our local YMCA. My disabilities refrain me from doing conventional exercises, even at home. We frequently use the swimming pool, which gives me the chance to exercise. I would not have the opportunity if I wasn’t enrolled in Medicare Advantage.

Although more and more seniors are taking advantage of the additional health benefits that Medicare Advantage offers, the program sadly faces proposed budget cuts every year. Without the program, seniors would have less access to important preventative health measures, which includes a gym membership. We need to protect this program.

Fortunately, we have strong voices in Congress, like Washington’s own Senator Cantwell, that are willing to stand up for seniors and fight for Medicare Advantage. I urge the rest of the Washington Congressional delegation to fight for Washington’s seniors and champion Medicare Advantage.

Mark Rohr, Washougal

Concerns about immigration lawsuit

The following letter was sent to the Washington State Attorney General, following his decision to file a lawsuit against the President for the executive order signed regarding immigration:

Dear Mr. Ferguson,

I was disappointed to read that you decided to file a suit against the President because of his recent executive order regarding the immigration of individuals from countries where radical Islamic terrorism is prevalent and sanctioned. This act, by you, appears to be politically motivated, not in the interest of protecting Americans, and in direct opposition to the McCarran-Walter Act Of 1952.

I am sure you are aware of this law, but I am providing the following for your review:

After several terrorist incidents were carried out in the United States, Donald Trump has been severely criticized for suggesting that the U.S. should limit or temporarily suspend the immigration of certain ethnic groups, nationalities, and even people of certain religions (Muslims). The criticisms condemned such a suggestion as, among other things, being un-American, dumb, stupid, reckless, dangerous and racist. Congressmen and senators swore they would never allow such legislation.

It seems that the selective immigration ban is already law and has been applied on several occasions.

The McCarran-Walter Act, the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 allows for the “suspension of entry or imposition of restrictions by the president, whenever the president finds that the entry of aliens or of any class of aliens into the United States would be detrimental to the interests of the United States. The president may, by proclamation and for such a period as he shall deem necessary, suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens, immigrants or non-immigrants, or impose any restrictions on the entry of aliens he may deem to be appropriate.”

Who was president when this was passed? Democrat Harry Truman.

Who last used this process? Democrat Jimmy Carter, no less than 37 years ago, in 1979 to keep Iranians out of the United States. But Carter actually did more. He made ALL Iranian students, already in the United States, check in with the government. And then he deported a bunch of them. Seven thousand were found in violation of their visas and a total of 15,000 Iranians were forced to leave the USA in 1979.

Additionally, it is important to note that the McCarran-Walter Act also requires that an “applicant for immigration must be of good moral character and in agreement with the principles of our Constitution.” Therefore, one could surmise that since the Quran forbids Muslims to swear allegiance to the U.S. Constitution, technically, ALL Muslims should or could be refused immigration to OUR country.

I voted for you. I believed you, as the attorney general of Washington State, would represent us from a non-political perspective. I trust you will do what is right in the eyes of the law and not continue down this path for political expediency.

Steve W. Raimo, Washougal