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July 14, 2016
 

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Page 2 CLINCH VALLEY TIMES St. Paul, Va. Thursday, July 14, 2016 ps. wax.. by Ann Young Gregory A remarkable concept ( Reprinted from July 26, 2007 This was all suggested to me by the United States Senate's unusual all-night debate last week. It was an apparent effort to focus more public attention on efforts of Democrats to approve legislation to set a timetable for bringing troops home from Iraq and to change a few votes on the other side of the aisle. While the marathon debate went on as scheduled, it didn't change enough votes to get the Democratic amendment to bring troops home by May, 2008, approved. Most Republicans, in fact, were determined to block the legislation, and a few Democrats apparently were looking for a less divisive solution. Be that as it may, the process is what really got my attention, since we all know that the President's war policy is under constant fire not only by the Democrats, but also a growing number of members of his own party. The process allowed the all night debate, just as it has allowed filibustering through the years. These long and often mind-wearying events can include everything from legitimate speeches on the point of view of the speaker to reading non-related materials--anything to delay, which is what the filibuster is designed to do. This Constitutional tool wasn't used in the early days of the nation, but was called into play in 1841 when a piece of legislation introduced by Senator John C. Calhoun, was challenged by Senator Henry Clay. Calhoun, to block Clay's opposition, conducted a fili- buster. Some of the filibuster rules have been changed through subsequent years--since the House of Representatives has grown so large---435 members, that body has adopted rules which limit the length of debate. The Senate, whose membership remains at two per state, continues to hold filibusters when any of its members deems it fit to do so; however, Senators have, through the years, approved a change in 1917 (Senate Rule 22) so that sixty-seven percent can call a filibuster to a close if members feel it's out of hand. Senate Rule 22 was amended in 1975 to allow whatever bill was under discussion to come to a vote if sixty percent voted to close debate. At this point, Senate Rule 22 became known as the cloture rule. The wonder of all of this procedural magic is that it continues to work very well after 218 years, even though the physical boundaries of the nation have changed, political parties have changed and the culture has changed. Not only has the United States changed from an agricultural to an industrial to an information society, but also the technology at this point is advanc- ing at such an alarming rate that the term ?the cutting edge" which we used so freely in the nineties can bare- ly be applied these days, since what's on "the cutting edge" today will likely be surpassed by something even more so tomorrow! All that is more proof that the founding fathers, in spite of their individual flaws, collectively came up with a remarkable concept when they thought up this whole noble experiment that we live every day--the one we call living in a democracy. Those remarkable men, who lived their lives in surroundings that we today would no doubt call primitive, were nevertheless sophisticated beyond their time. They decided that to have a truly free country, the people who populated it would have to be the governees (if there is such a word) as well as the governed. So when they wrote the Constitution, they designed a national government in which not one of the three branches--the executive, the legislative, and the judicial--had total power and authority. Instead, the system was built on a system of checks and balances among the three. Further, they determined that the governed (that's us) would be responsible for selecting the members of the House of Representatives and the Senate (the legislative branch), and the President (the executive branch). The President would then nominate members of the Supreme Court (the judicial branch), and the Congress would then be responsible for confirming (or you could say "validat- ing") the President's selection(s). Now obviously, it would be extremely unusual for any President or any member of the House or Senate, for that matter, to have unanimous approval of the gov- erned (that's us). After all, at .this point, there are just over three hundred million of us, and we seem to take pleasure in disagreeing with each other about every- thing. With just a few exceptions, then, the selection process is done by a majority vote. The Electoral College was designed for the selection of the President--many think it's outmoded and should be abolished so that the President is elected by a direct majority vote (combining the votes of everyone in the country), rather than by the majority in each state. But the idea of the majority is still there. With very few exceptions, the majority vote rules. Everyone is familiar--and probably a participant--m the ongoing argument about the war in Iraq. Before the election, in the House of Representatives, Republicans outnumbered Democrats 229-201 (with one Independent and four vacancies). The Republican majority in the Senate was 55-44, plus one Independent who generally sided with the Democrats. Because of the country's general unrest about the war, the national election last November became an opportunity for the governed--that's us--to express our displeasure with the way things were going by changing the majority in both houses. And you'll remember just how surprised almost everyone was when we did just that! Democrats won thirty seats in the House of Representatives held by Republicans. And one held by an Independent, No Democratic seats were won by Republicans. So the House majority changed to 233 Democrats to 202 Republicans. In the Senate, Democrats defeated six Republican incumbents and lost no races in which Democratic incumbents were involved. So while both the Democrats and Republicans have 49 Senators, the Democrats claim the majority with two Independents who generally tend to vote with Democrats. Much strife has resulted, but at least the debate is going on. If enough of us become unhappy with decisions being made, then we can change the decisions by changing the people who vote on them. The majority rules--what a remarkably workable concept for us all! 9 over by Lee H. Hamilton Barring a surprise at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland later this month, the race for the presidency is set. So this seems a good time to step back and consider just what it is that Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are fighting about. I don't mean where they stand on the issues, or whose vision is more com- pelling. I mean the office itself. The modern presi- dency is unique -- and pretty far removed from what our Founders envi- sioned. It's worth under- standing what's at stake as you watch these two peo- ple campaign for it. As Americans we have an odd attitude toward the presidency. On the one hand, we're leery of execu- tive power, and often of the government the President symbolizes. Yet we're also fascinated by the person who holds the office. When I was in Congress, if I had contact with the President, swarms of reporters would want to know every word he'd said. And people back home had an insatiable curiosity -- about the President, his family, what they wore, where they trav- eled, how they treated peo- pie. Americans invest a lot Of energyand attention in the President, whether they like or abhor him. And it's not just Americans. The President is not just the central play- er in our own government, but also in world affairs. Anywhere you travel, you'll find people who are curious about the most vis- ible American on the plan- et. All of this is with good reason. Presidents control the political agenda in this country. They formulate the budget, set defense and foreign policy, develop the initiatives that drive domestic affairs, and create the contours of public debate. Congress, by con- trast, reacts. In recent decades, it's been rare to find Congress seizing the initiative on much of any- thing. So the President stands at the center of the government, not just in moments of crisis -- when you'd expect it to be the case -- but when it comes to the everyday running of the country. Presidents have been opportunistic about this, doing what they must to succeed in the system they've been given. If they've been unable to get congressional approval, they've tried to work around it with executive orders; Democrat or Republican, they've worked hard to expand their power. The job has always car- ried with it great responsi- bility, but the weight of the modern presidency is over- whelming. There is no job training for the position, and no President emerges unscathed from the office. Harry Truman's comment Which is worth ponder- ing. No President ever lives up to the expectations peo- ple have for him -- presi- dents make mistakes both large and small, and their power is not limitless. But the balance of it in this country is unquestionably tilted in the direction of the White House, and that is not going to change. So the question AbOut the presidency that con- ceres me is how to hold the about where the buck stops President accountable. He was absolutely correct. In a representative democracy, the ultimate power may lie with the voters, but every tough problem this nation faces percolates up to the President; if it were easily solvable, someone else would have taken care of it. I've found almost all the presidents I've met to be serious, intelligent, anxious to do the right thing, like- able -- and always over- burdened. The story used to be told about Franklin Roosevelt that when he gave a fire- side chat, you could walk down a street and never miss a word, because every house would have the radio on. The presidency today is less of a bully pulpit, yet in policy, the President's remains the strongest sin- gle voice in this country and the world. or she needs to be scruti- nized, challenged, and held answerable to Congress and the public for his or her policies. There are today only rare opportunities for the vigorous give and take and close examination of a President that our system once provided. But how long can that continue before we cease to be a true representative democracy? Lee Hamilton is a Senior Advisor for the Indiana University Center on Representative Government; a Distinguished Scholar, IU School of Global and International Xtudies ; and a Professor of Practice, IU School of Public and Environmental Affairs. He was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for 34 years. CLINCH VALLEY TIMES DEADLINES: Editorial copy (anniversaries, birthdays, weddings, calendar items, press releases, etc.) 3p.m. Monday . ADVERTISING (Classified and display) 12 noon Monday Norton man sentenced to 20 years for attempted capital murder Charles Ray Hill, age 39, of Norton, pleaded guilty in the Wise County Circuit Court on July 5, 2016 to Attempted Capital Murder of a Law Enforcement Officer on charges stemming from an incident that occurred on May 21, 2015. The plea comes one week before Hill was to face a Wise County jury. Hill was sentenced to a period of incarceration of 60 years with 40 years sus- pended. Thus, he will serve a total active sen- tence of 20 years in prison. The remaining suspended Sentence will be condi- tioned upon successful completion of 30 years' probation. Had the case proceeded to trial, the Commonwealth was pre- pared to prove that at approximately 11:05 p.m. on May 21, 2015, the Norton City Police Department responded to a call at a Norton residence upon allegations of domes- tic violence. Upon arrival, officers encountered a female subject who was bleeding with various visi- ble signs of injury. The female advised officers that the other individual at the residence was armed, As Sgt. James McReynolds entered the residence to secure the scene, Charles Hill came out of a bathroom in the rear portion of the home with a rifle in his hands. Hill then raised the weapon to his eye and pointed it at Sgt. McReynolds. Hill fired the weapon at the officer from a short range, nearly missing him. The case was success- fully brought to a conclu- sion through the efforts of Commonwealth's Attorney Chuck Slemp and assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Joshua Newberry. "We are all thankful and lucky that no one was killed or seriously injured that night in May 2015. This is a serious case that could have ended very dif- ferently," Slemp said. "Our law enforcement offi- cers place themselves in danger every day to protect others from harm. We want to thank Sgt. McReynolds and other officers across our Commonwealth for their dedication and selfless public service." Slemp thanked the Norton City Police Department and the Virginia State Police for their role in investigating and preparing the case to go to trial. Slemp continued, "We hope these convictions send the message that any effort to harm a law enforcement officer will be met with severe repercus- sions." Coal heritage bus tour offered in August The St. Paul Main Street organization will offer another coal heritage bus tour on August 6. Travelers will hear stories of life in the coalfields and see fascinating rock forma- tions and beautiful native plants. The tour begins and ends at the gate of A.R. Matthews Park in St. Paul, VA. The bus will load at 8:45 AM and leave at 9:00 AM. The cost per person is $35.00 and includes lunch. For detailed information, visit the Main Street web- site at www.stpaulmain- street.org. The bus tour begins with a downtown tour of St. Paul, with stops along the Clinch River and at the Wetlands Estonoa Center. Other stops include the Coal Miners' Memorial in Clinchco and the Coal and Railroad Museum in Dante. In the Town of Haysi travelers will take a walk along the junction of Russell Fork and McClure Rivers and Prater Creek, and learn about adventure opportunities. The August tour will feature a quilt dis- play at a stop in Trammel. The final stop will be the Breaks Interstate Park, nicknamed "The Grand Canyon of the South." In the Park, guests will have lunch and a guided tour of the park. The inaugural bus tour took place as part of the Clinch River Days festival in June. During our third scheduled tour in October, featured events at the Breaks Interstate Park stop will include apple butter and molasses making, as well as music and crafts. These tours are not handicapped-accessible. For more information, e m a i 1 stpaulmainstreet@ gmail.c om or call 276-395-0685. Coffee time at library invites sen- ior citizens Every Monday at 10 a.m. the J. Fred Matthews Memorial Library will host Coffee Time for all area senior citizens. Seniors are invited to stop by the library from 10-11 a.m. and have a cup of cof- fee, tea, cider or hot choco- late and light refreshments. Visit with your friends, talk about the news going on in the area, read the local newspapers or browse through the library's magazine selec- tions. Make plans to come by the library each Monday for coffee and conversation. more information contact the J. Fred Matthews Memorial Library at 276-762-9702. Clinch Valley Times MEMBER VIRGINIA PRESS ASSOCLATION Published weekly iia St. Patti, VA 24283, by" the CLINCH VALLEY PUBLISHING CO., INC. The Clinch Valley Times serves the four-cotmty area of Wise, Russell, Dickenson and Scott, with offices and plant located in the CLINCH VALLEY TIMES building, 16541 Russell Street. Periodicals postage is paid at the ?ost Office ha St. Patti, VA 24283 Allen Gregory Editor/Adv. Susan Trent Adv./Graphics ANNUAL SUB SCRIPTIONS: In advance: $28.50 in Wise and Russell Counties; $30:00 in other 24-zip-codes; elsewhere $32.50. POST/vL~STER: send address changes to: Clinch Valley Times, RO. Box 817, St. Patti, VA 24283 SINGLE COPY - 50c Classified Advertising: mini- mtma charge $6.00 for up to 20 words, in advance; 25e per word after 20 words. Display Advert- ising rates on application Periodicals publication Post ISSN: 767600