Letters to the Editor: 02.16.12

Nothing to Fear
    Springs
    February 10, 2012
Dear Editor,
    I am the former managing editor of the New York Public Library, a book author, and an avid Kindle user of many years — so I read with interest Helen Rattray’s “Connections” column (Feb. 9) on her disenchantment with her Kindle and its possible threat to the traditional book. I continue to be surprised by the resistant view many serious readers take of the Kindle, even as it grows in popularity. The desire to “hold a book” in one’s hands is often the chief argument, almost as if the reality and intellectual content of text were necessarily compromised in electronic form. Allow me to air a different take.
    When I started out as a writer, I wrote articles in longhand before laboriously transcribing them on a Selectric typewriter. I didn’t think I would ever convert to composing directly on a computer; in fact, many writers at that time viewed computers as an inhibitor to the creative process. Now, of course, that argument seems impossibly quaint. I think opposition to electronic reading is analogous.
    While I usually read on a Kindle, I still buy physical books for research or if I want to keep a book — and, I confess, if I think it would make a good prop in my home decorating schemes. But my Kindle goes everywhere with me, including a trip through Southeast Asia, before which I uploaded the complete works of Anthony Trollope and Edith Wharton. I have converted my book club to Kindles. Some of us, in fact, read books on the Kindle iPhone application so that we don’t have to carry heavy volumes into doctors’ office waiting rooms. We all have noticed that we read more on a Kindle than we used to. I was delighted when my own book became available electronically.
    If there is any thought that electronic reading is a threat to libraries, as there was at one point at The New York Public Library, all you need to do is look at growing attendance figures. As the director of the East Hampton Library, Dennis Fabiszak, reported at a recent presentation of the proposed plans for the new Children’s Room, library attendance and usage among the young has grown exponentially in recent years. This is, of course, not directly attributable to electronic books, but it does indicate that we have nothing to fear. Reading now takes myriad forms and libraries have taken leadership roles in adapting to this.
    I think it’s important to remember that, beautiful objects that they may be, books are in the end a means of distributing information. With the invention of the printing press in the mid-15th century, which allowed for the mass production of books, information became more available to more people in every stratum of society, instead of being the purview of a wealthy few. Happily, as a result of technology — be it the Internet or the eBook — information is more readily available to more people than ever before. Electronic text has further democratized access to information, a seminal idea at the heart of the mission of virtually every public library in the United States.
    Though Ms. Rattray was in no way advocating that we limit access to information in her engaging article — in fact, quite the opposite. But, like it or not, to oppose electronic readers is to take an elitist view. It is a de facto argument for putting restrictions on access to information (and to the pleasures of reading) by keeping text in its traditional form, which is less available and sometimes more expensive.
    Sincerely,
    ELLEN T. WHITE (DIXON)


Remind the Driver
    East Hampton
    February 12, 2012
To the Editor,
    In recent months, a pickup truck decorated with various flags has been seen throughout East Hampton. One of the banners displayed appears to be the Confederate flag. I think Black History Month is an appropriate time to remind the driver of that truck what the Confederate flag represents.
    The states that comprised the Confederacy initiated the Civil War primarily over their right to enslave other human beings. Hundreds of thousands of Americans were killed in the Civil War. For over 100 years after the end of the war the Confederate flag was used as a symbol of Jim Crow, the social and legal system of the South that used violence to deprive African-Americans of their rights and force them into second-class citizenship.
    We have made progress in this country, but the myths about race that were invented to justify slavery and Jim Crow remain lodged in our national psyche.             
    Sincerely,
    GREG DONALDSON


Take Liberties
    Montauk
    February 10, 2012
To the Editor:
    Re: real estate signs. While a debate goes on regarding the size, the color, etc., there is a sign that is far more disturbing: “co-exclusive,” an oxymoron par excellence. Obviously no one in the real estate business bothered to look for the definition of “exclusive” in the dictionary. Perhaps the Hamptons feel they have a license to take liberties with the English language.
    Miles Jaffe (“The Hamptons Dictionary”) might want to add it to the upcoming revised version.
    In less “exclusive” areas, one finds “co-listings” a more appropriate sign.
LOUIS C. MARTIN


Feral Cat Poem #34
Feral cats love
their independence
but watching one I call Goldie
rubbing her humped back
back and forth and back against a spindly branch
it hits me that what she needs
to scratch where she itches
is a hand.
    ED HANNIBAL


An Investment
    Amagansett
    February 12, 2012
Dear David,
    What a difference a year makes! Last year on March 24, I attended the special meeting of the town board when the chairman of the budget finance committee, Arthur Malman, gave a presentation on the scavenger waste plant. The members of the committee that were present in order to give the report support were Michael Disenhaus, Bonnie Krupinski, Paul Monte, and Toni Somerstein. Mark Wagner, of Cameron Engineering, employed by the town since the 1980s, spoke at length at the end of this meeting.
    Mr. Wagner at that time said, “Waste treatment plants are assets‚” and “Where is East Hampton 5 or 10 years from now . . .  as the economy increases there will be pressure” to have a plant.
    At that time, Bill Wilkinson asked, “Are you saying there won’t be a place for this to go?”
    Mr. Wagner responded that “the chances for a new facility to be built will be extremely small, and as new plants expand to the west there will be less capacity for waste that will exist.” His theme was if the plant is no longer ours it would cost approximately $18 million to get this asset back.
    So now, a year later, Mr. Wagner is saying lease or sell the plant! His statement smells fishy, like the odors emanating from the plant. I think that Supervisor Wilkinson and Deputy Supervisor Theresa Quigley should heed the words of Benjamin Franklin: “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”
    Sincerely,
    RONA KLOPMAN


Should Upgrade
    Springs
    February 13, 2012
Dear David,
    It is vital to understand that there is a mutually supportive connection between operating East Hampton’s septic treatment plant in the most efficient economic manner and operating the plant at the highest environmental level.
    Economic efficiency would come from processing all, or most, of the septic waste produced in East Hampton. On any given day, it costs very little more to process 40,000 gallons of septic waste than it does to process 20,000 gallons. There is almost a direct proportional reduction of cost per gallon with any increase in amount processed.
    A modern septic treatment plant that processes the entire town’s waste could be run by the town and both make a profit and charge low prices to carters. Making a profit, as the plant did during the first 13 years when it was run by the town, means that the taxpayers do not have to subsidize it. Having low per gallon fees paid by the carters who use the plant means lower costs for property owners and businesses since the “tipping” fees are passed on to them.
    However, this financial analysis applies only when the discharged water is purified to a high standard. In that case, not only is pollution risk reduced, but the water can be beneficially used for irrigation or simply returned toward our aquifer.
    Those are precisely the implications of the recent National Academy of Sciences report titled “Water Reuse: Potential for Expanding the Nation’s Water Supply Through Reuse of Municipal Wastewater.” This report concluded that with modern technology it is now beneficial to the environment to return properly processed “waste” water back into our groundwater. We can, and should, upgrade our scavenger waste plant to a state-of-the-art water reclamation plant.
    Unfortunately, the only proposal currently being considered comes from a for-profit operator. The proposal would allow the operator to request a lowering of environmental standards from the state and yet increase the capacity of the plant by up to 50 percent without town board approval. There will be an ever-present, and potentially disastrous, conflict of interest between a private operator’s desire to maximize profits and the town’s long-term need for the plant to operate at the best environmental standards.
    These problematic sections of the single submitted proposal would not even have occurred if the town had followed the corrective action plan it commissioned last year from its consulting engineer. That plan logically says that the town — and not an outside, for-profit operator — should determine the plant’s environmental standards and needed repairs.
    I prefer that the town not lose control of this vital municipal service. But no matter who ultimately runs the plant, the best scenario is to spend the moderate extra money needed to turn the plant into a state-of-the-art water reclamation center. Then we could, and would, want the plant to process our own waste in our own town. We would provide this vital municipal service at the least total cost to our taxpayers and replenish our aquifer at the same time.
ZACH COHEN

    Mr. Cohen lost the Nov. 8 election for East Hampton Town supervisor by 15 votes. Ed.


Ignored the Problem
    East Hampton
    February 12, 2012
Dear David:
    The East Hampton Town Board, also known as a subsidiary of Disney, needs to understand the difference in purpose between a corporation and a town government.
    A corporation exists to present a product that will make it money. A town government exists to coalesce a community around common goals, the result of which will hopefully be to make living conditions better, more productive, and healthier for the bulk of its citizens.
    The current rush by the town board to outsource our town facilities to business entities without sufficient research or input smacks of bad corporate down-sizing. The prime instance at hand is our waste treatment plant. Our government ignored the problem, which the Department of Environmental Conservation, among others, told us we had, for several years. Now, without important preliminary study, it speeds to hand over the plant to a private company.
    The plant sits on top of the aquifer, which gives us drinking water. The treatment water also runs downhill, past drinking water wells, to our precious Three Mile Harbor. Therefore, the need exists for us to have the high standards for our plant, which the town attorney says we don’t really need and which the private company bidding for the plant plans to ask the D.E.C. to weaken.
    I have heard that their bid requires a “held harmless” clause, which leaves the town responsible for any difficulty that precedes the takeover. Who is to say when the difficulty appeared?
    To keep the facility running properly, waste will be imported from other towns. The private company will decide what and how much.
    While the waste treatment plant is our main focus now, The Star raises an important question: How many of our town facilities go to private companies? Fort Pond House served many community members; the board decided to sell it. Our indoor sports facility on Abraham’s Path — leased to a private company for 15 years, with very little return. Now our town tennis courts are on the block.
    The board needs to hear from us. We are not simply investors; this is our life.
    Sincerely,
    ARLENE COULTER


Quick Sale
    Amagansett
    February 13, 2012
Dear David,
    The East Hampton Town supervisor is pushing for a quick sale and concomitant development of the town’s sewage facility on Springs-Fireplace Road by a company we haven’t dealt with before.
    Some of us had experience with our town’s past involvement in waste management. Because of the complexity and possible cost which will be incurred, we believe the town board should use care in hiring those who contract for and engineer the process. I am bewildered at being informed that [the town’s consultant] is related to the proposed engineering team.
    The first and only company that has submitted a response to the first (and only) request for development is Clear Flo Technologies, at a price of $300,000 and a monthly payment of $18,000 for two years. While it has been learned that the town budget officer has prepared a financial analysis, it had not been submitted to the full board when the matter was discussed publicly last week. Indeed, a draft of a proposed agreement by Len Bernard had also been only partially circulated. And The East Hampton Star reported that Councilman Dominick Stanzione “suggested that a discussion of what to do about the plant might be better in the context of a ‘comprehensive septic waste management plan’ that includes provisions to address the impact of individual septic systems at residences throughout the town.”
    The town should use its facilities to call upon others, including those who are of a different party, to use effective planning techniques in adopting the nature of contracts covering waste disposal.
    Very truly yours,
    KEN FRANKL

For the Future
    East Hampton
    February 13, 2012
To the Editor:
    Those who follow scientific developments have been excited recently to read in The New York Times of new purification techniques that recycle septic waste into pure water usable for irrigating lawns and golf courses. Some East Hampton residents have experienced this themselves in places like Longboat Key, Fla., a coastal town with a high water table like ours, where recycled wastewater keeps lawns and golf courses green.
    Having such an extra water supply would be beneficial in coastal East Hampton, where residents, businesses, and the town itself have to pay for our water. It would also be an environmentally sound way to dispose of the waste from our cesspools, currently handled through the town’s scavenger waste facility.
    If the town board majority has its way, however, East Hampton may never have a chance to test out this new opportunity. Supervisor Bill Wilkinson and Deputy Supervisor Theresa Quigley solicited proposals for sale or long-term lease of the scavenger waste plant. Without assessing the cost and comparing the benefits of other options, they have indicated they are determined to accept the one offer received. If they don’t accept that proposal, they are expected to try to close the plant, as they haven’t put money in the 2012 budget to continue to operate it.
    The supervisor and deputy supervisor are obsessed with getting rid of town expenses. That’s not all bad. No one likes taxes, and we certainly have been through a bad economic patch. But the job of our representatives is not only to manage our money. They are meant to safeguard community resources in the interests of providing for the future. There are a variety of options for immediate improvement in the way we manage the scavenger-waste process. We should not choose any that will foreclose our opportunities for creating a healthier and more economical system in the future.
    Sincerely yours,
    ROBIN GLASSMAN


Produce Energy
    Springs
    February 10, 2012
To the Editor,
    East Hampton’s septic waste treatment system really stinks. I know because I’m a mile away and it makes me gag some days.
    Today we are in the age where every aspect of the carbon chain is up for grabs to produce renewable energy. Coal and oil are very slowing being replaced by renewable forms of energy, including wastewater, wind, solar, algae, etc.
    Perhaps the leadership in this town is in the dark about the hidden value of septic waste and other detritus (leaves, cuttings, etc.).
    One can read about prisons in Rwanda being powered by the biogas produced from onsite bioreactors that convert waste to fuel, how yard wastes are being converted to bio-products by pyrolysis. These topics are timely, and the concepts need to be understood by those who seek to lead this com­munity.
    The notion of bringing more human waste to East Hampton to produce more of the same stench and even more road traffic is frightening.
    Many communities around the nation are upgrading obsolete systems. Government grants and subsidies exist to help underwrite the capital costs of new renewable energy systems. On-site septic gas produced at a plant in East Hampton can produce energy that can be sold to LIPA, etc.
    The key words are renewable and feedstock. In this case the feedstock for the renewable energy system is human waste. Please hire a consultant who understands what’s going on in 21st-century municipal stationary systems management that produce renewable energy.
    See the 26th Annual BioCycle West Coast Conference. Learn firsthand from the experts about sustainable waste-management solutions for municipal, industrial, and agricultural residuals. This four-day annual BioCycle event is April 16 to 19 in Portland, Ore.
CLAYTON MUNSEY


For All
    Amagansett
    February 10, 2012
Dear David,
    “Public” tennis courts at Abraham’s Path should be maintained.
    “For all,” is why we are here.
    Sincerely,
    GEROMA GURNEY


Closed the Courts
    Montauk
    February 11, 2012
To the Editor:
    I am responding to your editorial of last Thursday where you state that the Montauk tennis courts were “fobbed off without complaint.”
    The situation was that the then-new town board closed the courts, which had been successfully run for many years by the town. We who relied on these courts attended many, many meetings, were quite upset, and asked that the courts be opened and available as before, and finally the Har-Tru courts became available, although quite late into the summer season. This of course was better than having none. So we went along with this, and it proves to be working well. Of course I must add that the fees doubled along the way. Your editorial was titled, “Keep Tennis Courts Open to the Public,” an issue Amagansett is now facing.
JOAN LEVINE


Like a Funeral
    East Hampton
    February 11, 2012
To the Editor,
    I am amazed that any member of the town board would take seriously the Princess of Darkness’s proposal to make our skies (and necessarily our town) even darker.
    The dark-skies advocates represent the kind of selfishness that is hurting East Hampton’s business center and our lifestyle. While other towns and cities celebrate bright lights, particularly on holidays, our town is already beginning to look like a funeral in progress. Instead of trying to make our town attractive to residents and vacationers, as other towns do, we practically turn out the lights. 
    If a handful of stargazers enjoy seeing stars with a bit more contrast than in a properly lit community, that’s fine. Everyone is entitled to their own hobby. But what they are not entitled to is making every taxpayer pay for new lights and bulbs that make our streets less attractive — and less safe! 
    If darkness is their objective, instead of imposing their obsession on everyone who lives here, they can always visit an astronomical observatory, or drive to a mountaintop, or take a boat out to sea. Or better yet, they can move to a deserted part of the world — the farther away the better  — where they can commune with others who want to preserve  the past at the expense of the future.
    I can understand the new Democratic board members supporting this. After all they are looking for any issue that can distract voters from their abysmal record when their party was in control and came close to bankrupting the city. But wasting the board’s time and the taxpayers’ money on dark skies is the height of  putting petty selfish interests ahead of projects of real value.
    Maybe darkness is their way to make it harder to see the empty stores, lost jobs, the idled craftsmen, and the young  people who are forced to move away! Instead, let’s kill dark skies altogether, and work for a brighter future.
EDWARD NASH  


Things Discussed
    East Hampton
    February 10, 2012
Dear Mr. Rattray,
    In an article in The Star (Joanne Pilgrim, Jan. 19) and a letter from Susan Harder (Jan. 16), I have been referenced. Let me explain how I was involved and what I actually did.
    I am an architect and town planner who has a home in East Hampton (since 1969). Over the years I have designed a good many houses on the East End, most recently the new Parish House for St. Luke’s Church. I have also served twice on the board of the East Hampton Historical Society and have spoken and written about the town and the region. Places I know and cherish.
    I was asked last year to meet with Bill Wilkinson about the town’s lighting policy, probably because I have designed a number of well-known new communities, both here and in Europe, places where outdoor lighting is important and is dealt with seriously. In only one of those did we deal specifically with dark-sky policies, because it had not yet become a serious public policy concern. I, therefore, did not claim any expertise in dark-sky requirements when I met with the supervisor, nor did I know what the town’s ordinance contained with respect to it. I did know that many well-known communities are in the process of changing their exterior lighting requirements just as all of us are beginning to use very different lightbulbs. (On several houses we are doing now, exterior fixtures are limited in number and must only shine downward.)
    Among things discussed with the town supervisor was that such a large area as the town, a place with many different uses and conditions, was more complicated and would take longer to move from old lighting ideas, standards, and fixtures; because of costs this process might best occur incrementally. We also talked about safety at night (particularly for older people), as well as automobile headlight glare. I said that in our practice we pay attention to making parking lots and decks more attractive and safer. We walked outside, noted headlight glare at roadside and how much light goes up into the sky (which doesn’t need it, etc.). If Councilwoman Theresa Quigley was part of my meeting with Mr. Wilkinson, I’m sorry to admit I don’t remember her.
    I did meet Susan Harder while I was visiting with a prominent landscape architect. Ms. Harder told me about her involvement in the town lighting issue. She is both knowledgeable and passionate about dark-sky issues. However, in my conversation with her, I never said that I “know nothing about lighting,” only that I know little about the details of current dark-sky issues. For the record, like nearly all responsible architects and town planners, our office spends a great deal of time on both outdoor and indoor lighting and works closely with some of our country’s best lighting consultants. Energy conservation has become a central concern in our profession.
    I hope this sheds some light on my involvement with both the town supervisor and Susan Harder. And I apologize if I have offended Councilwoman Quigley.
    Clearly the issues facing the town with respect to lighting in the public realm are important for everyone. And I expect this will be an ongoing concern.
    Sincerely,
    JAQUELIN T. ROBERTSON


Fragile Island
    Springs
    February 13, 2012
Dear David,
    On Nov. 30, I attended a conference at the Stony Brook Southampton campus spearheaded by Fred Thiele and Ken LaValle for the purpose of developing the Peconic Institute, which would tackle the intricacies of the basic issues of water, land, energy, and air. The room was overflowing that day with representatives from towns and villages and environmental groups as well as ordinary citizens, like me, who treasure the East End as the most special place they know and want to keep it, not unchanged, which is impossible, but healthy. When we broke into groups to figure out how we would fashion the institute, I chose to be a part of the “vision” group. We left that meeting with hopes to build a dream.
    In late January, the 26th, we were called to another meeting of the vision group only this time in Riverhead. What a difference little more than month and a change of venue makes! Instead of working out what the institute was going to stand for and deal with we were confronted with a group of people talking about personal property rights and the value of their property. They accused the United Nations of a grand scheme which smacked of cries of conspiracy that seem to rise across this land every so often by those who are scared, of what I never have been able to figure out. Perhaps their mothers didn’t love them enough or whatever. They wrap themselves in the Constitution as though it belongs to them and not to all of us. For little more than an hour and a half we were subjected to an ugly meeting that one of them was actually filming.  
    The amazing aspect of it all is that they would sacrifice their noses to spite their faces: How much will their personal property be worth when the water on this fragile island is no longer drinkable, the seas are polluted, the beaches filthy, the open spaces and farmland are lost and we have become Nassau County?
    I left that meeting shaken to my very core, and am still unable to erase this nightmare from my thoughts. I felt I had seen the enemy and it is our own stupidity and divisiveness.
    Sincerely,
    PHYLLIS MALLAH


Bravo
    Sagaponack
    February 10, 2012
To the Editor,
    Bravo, Andrew Benjamin! Now for Higer!
LOUIS MEISEL


Keystone
    East Hampton
    February 12, 2012
To the Editor,
    The Keystone pipeline that the elected officals are pushing may benifit those who own land that the line has to go through, just like those who made themsleves rich by insider trading, both Republicans and Democrats. The jobs they talk about may only be 250. Most of the work will be in Canada. The oil is to be sent to China, and our gas price and home heating oil will not go down. So much for how our elected officals take care of their constituents.
JULIA KAYSER


Told the Truth
    Sag Harbor
    February 12, 2012
To the Editor,
    The following are quotes from The New York Times on Feb. 6 from an article captioned, “A Solo Campaign to Tell ‘the Truth’.”
    Lt. Col. Daniel Davis said the war is going disastrously and that senior military leaders, including former Gen. David Petraeus, had not leveled with the American public. “You can’t spin the fact that more men are getting blown up every year.”
    “But we do expect — and the men who do the living, fighting, and dying deserve — to have our leaders tell us the truth about what’s going on.”
    He said he was going to “get nuked” for saying this.
    If a lower ranking officer said this, the traditional remedy would be a court-martial and he would be sent to prison for life. However, he was speaking out for his soldiers.
    As we already know, every soldier that enters the military has lost his freedom to speak out. Ever wonder why? Because war is the mother of all lies. In war the American people are lied to or deceived every day — a form of mind control. If we were told the truth there would never be a 10-year war with no exit. Finally someone has told the truth. The truth will set us free. Thank God someone took the risk to tell the truth.
    In peace,
    LARRY DARCEY


System Not Working
    East Hampton
    January 29, 2012
To the Editor,
    The conversation that isn’t, that needs to take place but hasn’t. It’s a conversation about the state of our economy, how we got where we are, and how we devise a plan for moving forward. The primary impediment to the conversation was the unwillingness of conservatives to accept that the free-market capitalism that they have championed and implemented for the past 30 years has had unexpected consequences that are destroying the American dream as we once believed it to be — understanding that the free market is hardly free, that capitalism is a complex concept that has as much inherent bad stuff as good stuff, that free trade is virtually never free, etc. — not that Keynesian or socialist or communist ideas need to be implemented but an understanding that what worked no longer does and the need to find new solutions is imminent.
    Fortunately. conservative thinkers like Francis Fukuyama, Ross Douthat, David Stockman, and David Brooks have understood the problem with ideological inflexibility (stupidity in the real world) and are willing to express it and call for a conversation. They have written at length about the old system not working anymore.
    Economically, we are obligated to have this conversation. The rigidity of House Republicans around the debt ceiling question caused seismic tremors in the global economy and will have substantial long-term negative effects. Politically, it would help if the Republicans got rid of the “virtual Obama” mantra and just dealt with what he does instead of what they believe he secretly wants to do. Virtual Obama has destroyed the credibility of the Republican candidates, turned them into buffoons (not a difficult task), and leaves them babbling mindless platitudes about destroying small businesses and hating white people.
    Realistically, the doo-doo that we are in is a collective effort. If anyone watched Bill Moyers’s interview with John Reed (Citibank), which describes how the Glass-Steagall Act was eliminated in order to allow for the merger of Travelers and Citibank, they would understand the depth to which our free market system has been co-opted and adulterated. For conservatives who supported eliminating Glass-Steagall from an antiregulation perspective, one needs to know that the original act was 37 pages and its replacement, Dodd-Frank, is 2,200 pages.
    So, we need to sit them all down at a table in a room with the doors locked, no food, no drink, no toilets. Lock the doors and not let them out until they either come up with a plan, destroy each other, or simply waste away. For the public it’s a win-win situation, no matter how it ends up.
NEIL HAUSIG

Comments

Dear Editor, As one shameless political junkie (as opposed to recreational drug junkies which better describes some of my political adversaries), I enjoy taking potshots at what my leftie friends delight in: revising history. For example, from your last letters section, Greg Donaldson on the Confederate Flag: “The states that comprised the Confederacy initiated the Civil War primarily over their right to enslave other human beings.” Wrong on BOTH counts. The North had INVADED Fort Sumter. On April 11, 1861 Brigadier General G.T. Beaugard of the Provisional Confederate Forces wrote a courteous letter to Commander Major Robert Anderson of the Northern Forces, requesting that he and his men evacuate the fort. The reason? The fort was not under the jurisdiction of the Northern Army and the Confederacy didn’t recognize the authority of the north. A similarly courteous letter was sent in response, respectfully declining the offer. The south waited about three months watching the North expanding it fortifications on southern territory before firing the first shot. So Mr. Donaldson, the North started the Civil War the same way that if a hostile man invaded your home and you defended it, and fired the first shot, the perp would have started the conflict and not you by his occupation of property not his. Unless of course, you don’t believe in the first human right of self-defense. And the second human right relating to property rights. Lefties generally don’t believe in either. Slavery was just one of the issues among a number that caused the war. There were great disparities in the economies between the two, trade issues, cultural issues, resentment issues, and the fact that many northern workers were treated far worse than most southern slaves. Slavery was more of a sidebar for the north’s cause; and a sidebar cause for the south’s defense of their system. No one should take these comments as favoring one view or economic system over another, just to set the record straight. The North CLEARLY started the Civil War with numerous acts of aggression, a war which resulted in 600,000 deaths of good Americans. And the Confederate Flag has NOTHING to do with it. Images and symbols have meaning, facts have greater ones. Take Julia Kaiser’s fantasies regarding the Keystone XL pipeline that traverses several thousand miles. Kaiser asserts that the pipeline would only “create” 250 jobs is Rather, Dan, as eye opening as Dan Rather’s substitution of fabrications for legitimate documentation. The very low estimate is a reasonable 20-30,000 jobs, and another estimate including periphery and associated jobs are 130,000; in line with similar projects in the past, given more advanced assembly and welding machinery today. The MOST conservative estimate is the most recent. 5-6000 jobs generated by Obama’s State Department that has – as does Kaiser - obvious political motivations to MINIMIZE the job count in deference to environmentalists who vote. Kaiser’s 250 number would not even do for maintenance chores for more than 500 miles of pipeline. For perspective, New York to Montreal is a distance of 300 miles. The XL project is over 1700 miles long without the proposed extension, and can supply 830,000 barrels per day. These facts have nothing to do with Republicans or Democrats. Kaiser will be paying close to $4/gal. for gas next week. I would prefer to pay less. I wonder what readers of this letter would like to pay? Contrary to Kaiser, Canada will not be sending the fuel to China if we build the Keystone XL pipeline. They will send it to China if we don’t. Given our politics and prevalence of Fairy Tales in the mainstream, Canada and China will come to an agreement that China appreciates Canadian energy more than we do. Andrew Benjamin