"Where Fillmore County News Comes First"
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Sunday, May 3rd, 2015
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Congress and the President need to consult – and not just on Iran


By Lee Hamilton

Mon, Apr 6th, 2015
Posted in All Commentary

Congress has developed a fondness for open letters when it comes to Iran. First came the warning shot signed by 47 Republican senators that touched off a storm of criticism. Not to be outdone, the House checked in with its own bipartisan and more diplomatically stated letter to the President, warning that its members must be satisfied with any agreement before they’ll vote to reduce sanctions.

What lies behind these moves? I think Congress feels left out of foreign policy-making.

I have considerable sympathy for this impulse. Over the decades, too much power has drifted to the President when it comes to foreign affairs. The Congress has been deferential, even timid, in allowing this to happen.

Moreover, the administration has not done an especially good job of consulting with Congress. The President is the chief actor in foreign policy, and it’s his obligation to reach out and develop a sustained dialogue with Congress on foreign policy matters. As far as I can tell, he has not done that sufficiently.

Yet much as I want to see Congress speak up on foreign policy, how it does so matters. The Senate’s letter to Iran was ill-considered and unhelpful. Its purpose was to defeat the nuclear negotiations, and it undercut the President while he was trying to negotiate a deal with another world leader. It raised questions about America’s reliability, invited doubt about the President’s ability to negotiate a deal, and created a major distraction at a crucial moment. The letter undermined not only this President’s credibility, but undermines future presidents’ as well. It suggests that no one in the U.S. government is empowered to strike a deal.

The letter did focus appropriately on presidential use of executive orders to conduct foreign policy, but it wrongly implied that presidents are hamstrung in the conduct of policy. The senators suggested that an executive order on Iran is likely to be reversed by a future president, which is not true. Presidential deals with other countries are rarely overturned by their successors.

In part, this is because once an agreement is in place it becomes very difficult to undo — especially if it’s working. Also, presidents are reluctant to reverse their predecessors’ work because they don’t want to undercut the same tool they themselves rely on to pursue their foreign policy goals.

As a nation we’ve gotten into .....
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Guest Commentary: Addressing Panko and Erding

Mon, Apr 6th, 2015
Posted in All Commentary

By Dan Terbeest Mr. Panko, Your strategy of “that’s not what I said” might work on other places but don’t pull that stunt with me. A trademark of liberalism is demanding “fairness”, there is nothing fair about what you tried to pull off ..... 
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Governing by crisis isn’t governing at all

By Lee Hamilton

Mon, Mar 30th, 2015
Posted in All Commentary

After Congress came a hair’s breadth from shutting down the Department of Homeland Security a few weeks ago, members of the leadership tried to reassure the American people. “We’re certainly not going to shut down the government or default on ..... 
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March madness

By Yvonne Nyenhuis

Mon, Mar 30th, 2015
Posted in All Commentary

An “ill wind is blowing” with an intensity unprecedented in American history. As Shakespeare warned, “Beware of the ides of March!” He might be looking down from above, watching what is happening in our politics and saying to himself, “I ..... 
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The parenting column - you knew it was coming!

Mon, Mar 23rd, 2015
Posted in All Commentary

By Eric Leitzen Our darling Cindie just turned three months old on the 17th, and she is an absolute ball. Sure, there is the occasional 3 a.m. crying session where you try, half asleep, to fill a bottle, but when she smiles at you, there’s nothin ..... 
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STANDING GUARD: Patriots Among Us

By Jeff Erding

Mon, Mar 16th, 2015
Posted in All Commentary

Authors note: In preparation for Memorial Day, my submittals for March, April, and May are intended to recognize the military service of our neighbors and friends who dedicated a portion of their lives in defense of their country. Few, if any, thi ..... 
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Guest Commentary: Response to Mr. Terbeest’s commentary

By Herb Panko

Mon, Mar 16th, 2015
Posted in All Commentary

Mr. Terbeest’s commentary (FCJ, 3-9-15) exhibits one of the typical qualities characteristic of extreme right wing conservatives---a message of gloom, saying the sky is falling because of various programs largely instituted by liberals. Also typi ..... 
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Guest Commentary: Addressing Panko and Erding

Mon, Mar 9th, 2015
Posted in All Commentary

By Dan Terbeest After reading Mr. Panko’s reply to Mr. Erding’s commentary from a few weeks ago, I had to re-read Jeff’s letter. Mr. Panko is very close to putting words in Mr. Erding’s mouth that he never said. If you are going to accuse s ..... 
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Learning to be a citizen

By Lee Hamilton

Mon, Mar 9th, 2015
Posted in All Commentary

The question usually comes toward the end of a public meeting. Some knotty problem is being discussed, and someone in the audience will raise his or her hand and ask, “Okay, so what can I do about it?” I love that question. Not because I’v ..... 
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