Support Good Causes
June 3, 2013
As the summer season becomes one giant listing of fund-raisers, and we all want to attend and support good causes of every ilk, please keep in mind that many of the charities looking for support do nothing to provide service to our local community or offer financial support to those local organizations that do.
Take a moment and research the fund-raisers that you plan on attending. If they do not support locals and their needs, it might be nice to look for one that does. Money is tight, and donations are down.
We all like to attend that one great summer party. There are plenty of summer parties to attend, making it easy to find one that connects you to friends and neighbors right here at home.
All the best,
June 10, 2013
The Whalebone Village I experience as a volunteer tutor in the Whalebone Community Tutoring Center is very different from the impression given by your recent article. The hard-working parents I’ve met have been active participants in their children’s well-being. They are engaged with resources at the local schools to help their young students and they take great pride when it’s time to send them off to college. Many children are able to attend summer camp thanks to the efforts of Veronica Wallace, director of the tutoring center, and the generosity of our local camps. Nineteen scholarships were awarded for this summer.
The image of a gun-toting, dangerous neighborhood maligns the hard-working people I’ve met at Whalebone Village. More social services: great. More celebration by The Star of the positive aspects of this little known section of East Hampton: welcome and important.
June 8, 2013
The recent decision to close the two existing public health clinics in East Hampton and Southampton and replace them with a new, better-equipped, better-staffed facility located in a large center adjacent to Southampton Hospital is an excellent one. A combination of funding from both the county as well as Washington will be managed by the Hudson River HealthCare group and will provide heath care services for all age groups with a sliding cost dependent on the patient’s ability to pay. So what is my problem? It is the summer traffic jam.
As I read in The Press last week and through my own investigation it appears that the Suffolk County funding is strictly limited to bricks and mortar, while the Hudson Group, with no similar restriction, is presently preparing a plan to “accommodate transportation for East Hampton (Wainscott to Montauk) patients.” During my nearly 20 years of calling senior citizens in the Retired Senior and Volunteer Program it was not unusual that one of our clients reported as much as a 31/2 hour trip by town transportation to a Southampton doctor during the summer.
Clearly the use of transportation during the summer, short of by medevac helicopter, is not feasible. It is my understanding that there are several East Hampton doctors who, with support from the Hudson Group — equipment, staffing, etc. — are prepared to provide services similar to that of the new center with the same fee structure. I urge the Hudson Group to look into this possibility or other means to allow a humane solution to this problem.
There was a justification for the clinic on Accabonac Road. While it wasn’t perfect, it was accessible.
June 9, 2013
New York Times article of June 2, 2013: $2.7 trillion spent on health care. Are we to blame colonoscopies that are effective in detecting cancer?
Contrary to The New York Times article of June 2, written by Elisabeth Rosenthal, regarding the cost of health care and the overriding cost of performing colonoscopies, I must confess that I am a gastroenterologist, and I advocate that patients undergo colonoscopic examinations for the detection and treatment of premalignant lesions. Having said that, I admonish my colleagues to adhere to the recommendations of our professional societies and not perform unnecessary procedures. I admit that some of the comments released in The Times report are true, but, in support of my organizations’ positions, the data presented by the reporter were skewed and inaccurate.
I am not defending the practices of my colleagues, only suggesting that we as gastroenterologists should regard the safety of our patients first and not be concerned about how many procedures we are performing. And we have established guidelines to follow. The readers of the article should have noted the average, low reimbursement paid by Medicare to gastroenterologists for colonoscopies; one wonders why a proven cancer-preventing procedure is reimbursed less that a visit to a dentist for a routine exam and cleaning! Not to mention the much higher reimbursement paid to a dermatologist (one who has opted out of Medicare and is a non-participant in commercial health plans) for a simple punch biopsy of a mole, which is visible and not hidden in the depths of the colon.
I take the position in support of using anesthesiologists who monitor the delivery of the anesthetic agents and the vital signs of the patient while the gastroenterologist concentrates on performing a safe and complete examination of the colon. In practices, especially in ambulatory surgical centers, which the author of this article trashed, anesthesiologists are contracted to provide their services for a fixed price, which, if not in effect in some places now, will be in effect soon, ultimately saving money for the consumer and the insurance companies.
We know there are screening tests that have been advocated as alternatives to colonoscopy, but none are both diagnostic and therapeutic as is colonoscopy. I publicly challenge a letter published in The Times, which was written by a radiologist, and the obfuscated facts presented in that letter. The writer-radiologist proposed that virtual colonoscopy (what we call CT colonography) is as effective as colonoscopy for colon cancer screening. The writer stated that CT colonography is cheaper, requires no anesthesia, and is safer than colonoscopy for cancer screening.
What the radiologist didn’t say is that, 1. CT colonography exposes patients to ionizing radiation, 2. Requires the same bowel preparation as a colonoscopy, 3. Cannot positively identify lesions less than 6 mm in size, and 4. Is purely diagnostic; and if a lesion is seen during this examination, guess what, the patient is referred for a colonoscopy, thus doubling the costs.
Most patients, when given the options and the facts, prefer having a colonoscopy — all in one — rather than undergoing more procedures which cannot provide biopsies or the capability of removing premalignant lesions, which is what gastroenterologists can do when performing a colonoscopy.
Letters from my professional societies support the notion that colonoscopy is the gold standard because colonoscopy can detect and treat both for the same dollar. A dollar spent now for detection saves $3 spent later for treatment. Which would you prefer?
I will defer lengthy comments regarding the cost of health care in our country, which is increasing as our population is aging. Our personal health is suffering — too many diabetics, too much obesity, too many heart or cardiac procedures, and too many joint replacements. We should concentrate on maintaining better health habits and encouraging prevention and the use of proven screening tests such as colonoscopy.
Jerome H. Siegel
Making a Mess
June 10, 2013
To the Editor,
The Village of East Hampton’s traffic controllers and its tire markers swarm all over Main Street and Newtown Lane like bees in a hive. Not only does this look ridiculous, not only is the “Gestapo” atmosphere not a welcoming sign, but they are not really helping traffic.
A car exiting the main parking lot (behind Walbaum’s) onto Newtown Lane cannot turn left! Who thought of this inane traffic pattern? Forcing everyone to turn right brings more cars into the heart of the village, which is what one does not want.
I live in Northwest Woods; I want to turn left to go home. I cannot. I must turn right and go in the wrong direction on Newtown Lane, then either turn right onto Main Street and go all the way to Route 114 and finally turn right on Stephen Hand’s Path (miles longer than my preferred way) or when forced to go right onto Newtown Lane I could go to the light and make a left on Main Street, try to cross over to North Main Street (a completely congested spot) and finally get to Cedar Street. If I could only turn left out of the parking lot, as I am able to do all winter, it would be so much better for traffic and for me. Whose stupid idea is/was this? With all those traffic cops, certainly they could direct left-turners.
The traffic cops stop cars every time they see a walker getting ready to cross the street. Instead of waiting for a bunch of walkers and watching the traffic lights to coordinate the best moments to stop traffic, they halt cars every minute. Traffic flows slower than ever. Isn’t it enough to have those newly installed flashing lights for crossing on Main Street plus the individual movable “stop for pedestrian” signs and the large, green, permanent “walk” signs? Why have traffic cops also?
When not making a mess of traffic, the busy bees are constantly marking tires, another very unwelcoming gesture from the village. Most people do not stay in the village very long anyway. Why make visitors rush?
These summer workers would be more useful if they stopped bicycles and skateboards on the sidewalks. But they don’t. They would be more useful if they made double-parkers move. But they don’t. Perhaps most helpful would be to not have so many of them, to not change the traffic patterns, and to not mark tires all day, every day, every hour.
The village has become a cold and nasty place.
A Traffic Mess
New York City
June 10, 2013
To the Editor:
Help! The beach in Wainscott is worse than ever. There are deep ruts along the sides of the road which prevent cars from parking, thus reducing the spots available. The sand is overflowing into the parking lot. The 15-minute parking sign is under sand. There is no turnaround area at the top anymore for cars. Cars park as high up as possible, beyond the handicap parking spots, leaving no room to turn around. There used to be No Parking signs at the top but they are missing. With cars parked on both sides, the middle is a single lane; cars must back up to get out while other cars are pulling up at the same time. Needless to say, it is a traffic mess!
Clean it up! Put no parking signs up at the top. Reconfigure the parking. Do something! We are paying huge taxes to the Town of East Hampton. We don’t get garbage pickup; we have to pay to bring our garbage to the dump. Some of us do not have public water; we pay for our own pump. At least give us clean beaches and decent parking.
Amount of Litter
June 9, 2013
To the Editor,
I was round-trip biking to the farmers market across the Napeague stretch. The amount of litter was enormous (beer cans, bottles, bags, broken glass, etc.). To those who do this needless damage — and the town for not doing a better cleanup job — as my kids would say, seriously!
Montauk Highway, or Route 27, on Napeague is a state road. Ed.
The Mylar Situation
June 3, 2013
I am, and have been, a resident of East Hampton for more than 60 years.
I have dogs. I walk on the beach every day, year round. And I am a very conscientious picker-upper of dog poop. I am also a very concerned citizen and what I find despicable are the increasing supply of Mylar balloons that appear on the beach.
Personally, I find a Mylar situation far worse than the dog poop. Okay, there are Clorox plastic containers, rubber gloves (only one at a time), bottles and cans, all of which, by the way, I pick up on my walks. But the Mylar balloons? Why are these legal in the Hamptons? I realize some wash up from “foreign” shores, so I question why they are legal anywhere? Talk about leaving a carbon footprint. We are leaving a Mylar poop print — far, far worse than what our dogs do.
And, on the dog situation, why isn’t one village beach banned entirely from dogs as well as one town beach? Seems to me that we dog owners could easily live with that choice and the non-dog lovers would be content having no dog residue.
Let the Mylar land on those chosen dog-banned beaches!
SUSAN BROCKMAN METZGER
May 26, 2013
The new phone system in East Hampton Town Hall holds no charm for me. Last week, I tried and tried to phone the Parks Department.
I finally gave up and drove to the Parks Department building and directly discussed my business at hand with the Parks Department secretary.
The town in my view has two options — either fix it or scrap the whole works.
STUART B. VORPAHL
June 4, 2013
Thank you for giving structure to a potpourri of compliments and complaint. Compliment: To the young man from Groundworks Landscaping who removed rusty metal spikes from the public beach in Amagansett.
Complaint: East Hampton Town Trustees placed snarky red tags on sand fences that replaced sand fences that had washed away in Superstorm Sandy. No one noticed them as jurisdictional, assuming they were price tags.
Complaint: To the miscreants who do not pick up the poop assuming it will magically turn into Hamptons estate mulch.
Complement: To my friend who challenged a young lady from Melville to retrieve a tossed Starbucks coffee cup from an East Hampton Main Street bush.
Complaint: I had thought better of Melville.
Compliment and complaint: To my neighbor who neutralized the 4 a.m. revels of rowdy renters, one of whom relieved himself on my hedge. Armed with embroidery scissors, which we thought proportionate to what we had witnessed, I spared no ire. We shall see what the future holds.
All good things,
Heritage and Traditions
June 10, 2013
Long live the dream! And long live East Hampton citizens like Randy Parsons, who, in his excellent letter of last week, reviews for us our unique history and the important functions of our comprehensive plan, our zoning codes, and the Planning Department and planning board — all of which are so essential to the bright future of this place.
And it is good that Randy reminds us of the skeptical, cynical attitude of the architect of the 89-unit luxury condo complex planned for Amagansett; Jacquelin Robertson scoffs at the very concept of protecting the 29 acres of prime agricultural soil at the proposed site. To preserve it is a “dream,” he declares.
It is well worth repeating that because enough citizens over the years dreamed of a beautiful, prosperous, livable community for all — farmers, fishermen, small-businessmen, vacationers — that they protected its heritage and traditions and natural resources. And East Hampton flourished. Should we abandon that dream now for a heedless, clueless, out-of-state developer’s desire for a financial bonanza?
Litter Our Beaches
June 10, 2013
When we vacation in South Beach, Fla., during the winter, I am impressed by fact that the beaches are always clean and the crowds are well behaved in spite of the fact that the majority of the people are young and energetic. There are trash receptacles every 100 feet, glass containers and alcohol are not allowed on the beach, and the police issue tickets for violations.
The East Hampton area attracts people because of its unique beauty but is beginning to attract party groups, who litter our beaches and disturb residents and visitors with loud music and disruptive behavior.
I believe we need clear rules and code enforcers to ensure the continuance of the beauty and peaceful quality of life that has brought so many people to East Hampton.
Even if East Hampton limited specific rules to daytime hours on beaches with lifeguards it would be a major improvement over the present situation.
June 10, 2013
When someone watches Fox News or MSNBC, that viewer knows beforehand which side of the issue they will hear. But when one reads a local newspaper reporting on town news, they should not be subjected to the same biases of the national news networks. They should be given the facts.
Through the years, the opinions of The Star’s editorials (and “news” articles) clearly lean one way, and only one way — left. Even when those on the other side make good decisions, those decisions are met with politicized criticism, some based on fact, but most based on opinion unfounded in facts.
Last week The Star’s editorial focused on the excavation along Route 114. After years of problems caused by flooding in that area, flooded homes of he hundreds of residents of Hanson Hills, hours of wasted focus by Highway Department personnel pumping the roads of Hanson Hills of the muddied waters into “preserved lands,” unsafe driving conditions, and soil from the fields along Route 114 washing off the farm fields, the town — with the town board’s unanimous approval, the town attorney’s focused attention, the Planning Department’s and town engineer’s input, and utilizing plans developed in 2001 under then Supervisor Schneiderman — bid out the job of creating a recharge basin.
The project was started, but stopped. When the work was not complete, it became an opportunity to politicize the project by both the newspapers and some town board members, yet no solutions were offered for the problem.
Instead of realizing the benefit gained from the excavation, the retention of the soils on the correct side of the road, the safety of all in roads that remain passable, the health and safety of the hundreds of residents on Hanson Hills, the lack of necessity to post highway personnel on the job of pumping millions of gallons of water off of Sulky Circle and Harness Lane, and the preservation of the preserved land behind there, your paper chastises Bill Wilkinson and Theresa Quigley, turning a health and safety issue into a partisan issue.
Your myopic focus on demonizing Theresa Quigley and Bill Wilkinson has clouded your assessment of the facts. Perhaps indeed, it has clouded your ability to see facts.
Speaking of facts, it has been over two days since the heavy rain that we experienced Friday night. The incomplete recharge basin still holds millions of gallons of water dumped that night. All that rain never went across Route 114, never flooded the homes, never blocked access to the roads. In the meantime, that same Friday night, Long Lane was so deep with water surging across it that it came up to the running boards on my pickup truck.
Obviously good government means good planning and preparedness for potential problems. Thank goodness our town leaders rely on facts and not on opinions expressed by your polarizing editorials.
Husband of Theresa Quigley
June 10, 2013
To the Editor,
The Star has now classified Bill Wilkinson as the worst or near worst supervisor in recent memory or at rock bottom wallowing in the shallows with President Buchanan.
Many of our presidents have left office with very low approval rates but presidential historians later re-evaluated the same presidents in the cool light of hindsight or without the burden of current politics and came to entirely different conclusions. Harry S. Truman would be an excellent example of the aforementioned.
Wilkinson is no Harry Truman by any stretch of the imagination. Maybe The Star should be pleased he isn’t; as Truman threatened to beat up the reporter who gave his daughter a bad review concerning her singing prowess.
The folks at The Star may be a tad premature in their evaluation of Wilkinson. Let’s be fair: Wilkinson’s background at Disney hardly prepared him (despite his protestations otherwise) for the financial debacle that he faced after he was sworn into office. He did the job that he was elected to do and by all accounts he achieved good results. The Star may have a difference of opinion concerning his methodology in obtaining financial stability for the town and that’s a valid point to share.
Suspending leaf pickup, intentions to sell the docks without proper authorization, attempting to sell the Montauk Fort Pond House (there is more negative news to come in this matter), making up land values “in his own head,” and my personal favorite — telling us that “summer is short.” Really?
Full disclosure is necessary here. I am a lifelong Democrat who previously worked with Wilkinson on some town issues. I did find him earnest in attempting to solve problems facing the town.
Now, does he get rattled easily, become needlessly argumentative, accusatorial, and uncompromising with an occasional pout? Yes, but let’s remember, he is not a firefighter trained to work in crisis conditions, he’s a politician. A politician pretending that he is not a politician and that pretension gets him in hot water at times with the electorate, town employees, other board members, and all to the chagrin of the people he is supposed to serve, including the editor of The Star.
The salient point to remember, in your evaluations of Wilkinson, is that we didn’t hire a master of ceremonies or a judicial officer with a calm demeanor. We elected a man who said he would attempt to correct a financial mess that was exponentially becoming a debacle for the town.
If that’s all he accomplished in his three and a half years as supervisor he should at least get a passing grade from The Star, even if you have to mark on the curve.
We the people, and town historians, have plenty of time to re-evaluate Wilkinson after he leaves office. Maybe, as in the Truman experience, his rating will be higher, reflecting his accomplishments.
The Right Balance
June 10, 2013
We know the political campaign season has begun when the Republicans have started their normal practice of spreading falsehoods. At Thursday’s East Hampton Town Board meeting Carol Campolo, secretary of the Republican Committee, accused the Springs School Board of being an elitist group. Then she attacked them for tax increases. Really?
The Springs School Board is comprised of smart, hard-working, fiscally responsible members of our community who just had their 2013-14 budget passed with 77 percent voter approval. Here’s why the Springs community overwhelmingly supports its school board: The Springs Board of Education successfully renegotiated the East Hampton High School tuition contract in June 2011, saving Springs taxpayers $3.2 million over the life of the contract. Additional money was then realized when the Springs board hired a consultant to audit East Hampton’s Seneca Falls calculations (the New York State tuition formula) for the 2012-13 school year. The consultant determined that sending districts were being overcharged by 5 percent. Once the regular education tuition rate was reduced‚ from $27,345 to $26,067‚ the Springs district realized an additional $354,000 in savings.
Then, when East Hampton announced its 2013-14 school year tuition increase for sending districts, the Springs School Board once again pressed them for the documentation so that it could audit East Hampton’s calculations. This time the consultant determined that the rate given the sending districts was overstated by 4 percent. As a result, the Springs Board of Education has realized a total of $3.9 million in savings and/or refunds since 2011.
The Springs School Board has had to deal with a distressed economy, unfunded New York State mandates, fluctuating state aid revenues, a rapidly growing student population, changing demographics, the highest high school tuition rate in New York State charged to Springs by East Hampton High, four straight years of decreasing assessed valuations, and ever-increasing expectations for student performance.
In the face of all this, Springs students continue to excel. Currently 84 percent of Springs students are at or above grade-level in math and 68 percent of Springs students are at or above grade-level in reading. Springs eighth grade students have scored first in Suffolk County on the New York State math assessments two years in a row.
If you ask me, the Springs School Board, under great pressure, has struck the right balance between ensuring a quality education for Springs students and holding down costs for Springs taxpayers. In Springs we thank them.
About the Issues
June 10, 2013
It is a shame that Carole Campolo has withdrawn her name from consideration as nominee for East Hampton Town supervisor on the Republican ticket, apparently leaving that party without a candidate to contest the Democratic nominee. It is a shame because our community deserves a lively dialogue about the issues.
However, it is not surprising that Ms. Campolo withdrew. The local Republican ideology of the past four years — with the harsh anti-government, anti-regulatory, and anti-community policies promoted by Bill Wilkinson, Theresa Quigley, and Dominick Stanzione — has estranged many voters. The Republican Party has offered no reasoned or coherent programs to address the complex issues facing East Hampton. Behind the rhetoric, there exists a moral and intellectual vacuum.
By contrast, the local Democratic Party continues to broaden its base. Drawing upon perspectives from our entire community, it has been developing articulate, thoughtful positions on many of the issues facing our town. At its very core, our local Democratic Party believes in listening to and responding to the concerns of our community.
Check out ehdems.com and sign on to the monthly e-newsletter, and you will see that the East Hampton Democratic Party has the ideas, the skills, and the energy to restore sound governance to our town.
Has the Credentials
June 10, 2013
Poor Carol Campolo — a loyal Republican, secretary of the party, all dressed up in hyperbole and no place to go with it. Sure is disappointing that she has made the decision not to step up to the plate and fill the vacancy at the top of her ticket. Maybe it’s because this is a vacancy not only on the ballot but in the absence of any ideas, or dialogue, or philosophy in her party.
She could have been a contender, an articulate spokeswoman with her excellent command of high-powered (negative) adjectives and nouns. And she certainly has the credentials as a faithful supporter of the supervisor and his “deputy.” Indeed, one could apply her own words from her recent letter to The Star to describe her political passion: “a mouthpiece and political hack for the hate mongrels.”
Civility in Town Hall
June 10, 2013
I read your editorial two weeks ago, and I have been searching my bedroom for the secret eavesdropping mikes hidden somewhere. Surely you have been listening to my fussin’ and cussin’ every time I watch the East Hampton Town meetings, which I call “shows.” I used to attend these meetings when Julia Prince and Pete Hammerlee were the tacit opposition. Tame stuff.
Enter stage left, Sylvia Overby and Peter Van Scoyoc, and the tension and conflict began. Center stage is the antagonist and antagonistic Lady McQuigley with her sidekick, Mordred. The first time she flailed her arms and raised her shrilly voice with him supporting every bullying word out of her mouth, I was out of there, safely holed up in my bedroom, spewing my own venom in the privacy and sanctity of my home.
Every time she talked about how she hated the job, I said, “So quit!” Every time she says “I am a lawyer who has lived here all my life‚ 58 years (except for the time spent in Germany) and I love this town as much as anyone‚” I moan and sing, “It seems to me I heard that song before.”
One particular May meeting I watched till after 2 in the morning witnessing the belligerence the deadly duo discharged on a community leader and a respected town employee. I was aghast and did not fall asleep till 6 in the morning. That was the end.
Who raised these two? Where is their humanity?
Thank you for putting into words what the whole town, save a few dwindling supporters, want: civility in Town Hall and the end of the reign of terror.
June 10, 2013
The relentless, tortuous, disruptive, life-altering barrage of noisy, dirty helicopters has again shattered an entire weekend that once was a restful, peaceful, bucolic environment we call home. Helicopters crashing the stillness of night, rudely awakening the tired, the poor, induced by ferrying rich, selfish, inconsiderate passengers to and from East Hampton Airport at all hours of the day and night. The tired, the poor are the taxpayers, the voters. We are the People.
We the People declare our independence from the tyranny of the federal government who has enslaved the People to a tortuous, tormented existence by usurping the rights given to the People by local zoning laws and the Constitution for the peaceful enjoyment of property.
We the People declare our independence from the carpetbaggers ferrying rich, selfish, inconsiderate passengers at the cost of annihilating the once-restful, peaceful, bucolic environment of the Peconic region that once was the draw for rich, considerate, peace-loving people.
We the People declare our independence from the eye-watering, dirty, grimy, unhealthy pollution raining upon the People from the most inefficient, most polluting form of transportation known: the helicopter.
The airport has no control. The airport is out of control.
We the People demand the return of East Hampton Airport to the enjoyment of local pilots for the intended use of private aircraft owners and private pilots.
We the People demand the return of peace, quiet, rest, and enjoyment of our homes and property.
We the People demand the return to cleaner air, cleaner water, reduction of carbon dioxide emissions by eliminating the use of dirty, grimy, unhealthy helicopters; its use being a mere convenience, not a necessity.
We the People demand control of the airport return to the People who have suffered much under the control and enslavement of the federal government, which has usurped the rights of the People.
To the People! For the People! The status quo is unacceptable. The cost is too great to bear. Noise abatement failed miserably.
There is a political solution. This election is your chance to make a change, to take your rights back. Make your demands known to all candidates. Only vote for candidates who make a commitment to eliminate helicopters, refuse to take Federal Aviation Administration money and return the airport to local control. It can be done. If a candidate tells you it cannot be done or they are unwilling to make a commitment, then demand the airport be closed.
It is silly to consider otherwise. If it wasn’t so silly, it would be crazy.
Share then Pain?
June 9, 2013
The recent statement by East Hampton officials that changing the helicopter routes is a way to “share the pain” is absurd. Who wants to share pain? Why do we have to share the pain?
When virtually everyone on Long Island either doesn’t use helicopters or hates them, why have none of our elected officials done anything to halt their rampant destruction of our once-rural environment?
Feral Cat Poem #53
alien creature running for its life
zigzag down the middle of the road
in my headlights:
a shaved Chihuahua?
finally it zagged east into the brush:
a baby red fox!
cute as hell, but no stand-in for a feral cat,
still awol since ARF’s Big Fix last fall.
June 9, 2013
To the Editor;
“This administration puts forward a false choice between the liberties we cherish and the security we provide. I will provide our intelligence and law enforcement agencies with the tools they need to track and take out the terrorists without undermining our Constitution and our freedom.” Those are the words spoken in 2007 by then-Senator and presidential hopeful Barack Obama.
The man who would be president continued by saying, “That means no more illegal wiretapping of American citizens, no more national security letters to spy on American citizens who are not suspected of a crime. No more tracking citizens who do nothing more than protest a misguided war. No more ignoring the law when it is inconvenient.”
It was a promise made by a man who also was going to have the most transparent administration ever. He was also going have the discussions on policy broadcast on CSPAN so Americans could know what their government was doing and just last month told graduates at an Ohio commencement to reject the voices of those who warn of an ever-growing government and, as the president put it, “that tyranny is always lurking just around the corner.”
Karma must be real because shortly after speaking these words the illegal acts of the Obama Internal Revenue Service and the profiling of certain conservative groups came to light. On the heels of that scandal we learned that Eric Holder’s Federal Bureau of Investigation was spying on news organizations that pursued stories unfavorable to the Obama regime. The revelation that the Obama administration is conducting wholesale surveillance on millions of Americans who have committed no crime probably comes as no shock.
It is somewhat telling when I agree with a man like Paul Krugman, a far-left liberal economist and supporter of the Obama regime, that the United States has become an authoritarian police state under the hand of Barack Hussein Obama. Was that what the president meant when he promised to fundamentally transform America? We have drones overhead, cameras on every corner, but that just is not Orwellian enough for our Dear Leader.
Just last week President Obama said the war on terror is over; if so, why the cloak-and-dagger routine, why the monitoring of over three billion phone calls a day, why is the National Security Agency and the F.B.I. tapping into Internet providers like Google, Yahoo, Facebook, and YouTube for your audio, video, photographs, e-mails, documents, connection logs, and your credit card use? Is Aunt May’s family recipe a threat? Are those pictures of your children hiding some sinister secret?
Apparently all of this spying, snooping, and outright violation of your privacy was no help in stopping the Tsarnaev brothers and that is after being tipped off by Russian security about them.
It is not enough anymore when the government says, “Trust us. We will keep you safe.” The continued erosion of our civil liberties is no longer an acceptable price to pay for false and empty promises.
I started this letter with a quote from a man pretending to be great. I’ll end it with a quote from a man who was great: “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” — Benjamin Franklin, 1775.
MICHAEL D. BOUKER
June 10, 2013
Looking ahead on my calendar I noticed Friday, June 14, is Flag Day, my motivation for this letter. Just a few observations: More flags have been flown in America since 9/11 than ever before. I believe patriotism has also reached a feverish pitch.
Flags in and of themselves can’t hold up an empire, even these great United States no longer united and now dysfunctional.
I spent two years on active duty in the Korean War. Let me draw upon two relevant prophetic quotes from Gen. Douglas MacArthur: “Anyone wanting to commit American ground forces to the mainland of Asia should have his head examined” — a quote repeated by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.
After his retirement General MacArthur also warned us, “We have entered an age of war without winners.” Obviously we made a colossal mistake, already identified by the American people many years ago.
Having learned this I suggest every flag waving in our country should be flown at half-mast until all our soldiers are bought home — men, women, and teenagers, innocent victims of war.
June 9, 2013
To the Editor,
Immigration reform is the latest entry in the let’s-pull-our-puds circus that occupies Congress. If it didn’t matter it would be just another mindless episode of “Seinfeld” that we could laugh and muse about. Alternatively, it might not really matter.
No one in this country doesn’t have immigrant blood. We are a country of immigrants, and somehow only the 11 million people in question haven’t managed to attain legal status. From a historical perspective, they will certainly get there. Everyone, or almost everyone, does.
This group of immigrants differs from the original group, in that they haven’t come to rape and pillage, convert and bastardize. Their mission is simple, nobler: They are in search of a better life and are willing to make a contribution for it. Unlike the original settlers, they bring something to the table.
There are two essential problems with this group of immigrants. Primarily of Latino origin, they will vote Democratic. Not because they want to but because they have no choice. The white-trash policies of the Republicans take them out of the equation for non-white voters. A state like Texas, already on the cusp of a non-white majority, would certainly tip Democratic (if the Democrats would want it.) For Republicans, immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship is hara-kiri.
The second issue around immigration reform is less obvious. It is much easier to abuse, underpay, and fire noncitizens. Withholding taxes, Social Security, and Medicare would have to be deducted and contributed. The expense and paperwork are substantial. Bringing in 500 workers for a month or two and seeing them disappear would no longer be an option. Even though our minimum wage and benefits are among the lowest of the industrialized countries, citizenship would be a burden.
Historically, just about every study ever done shows that the contribution of newly minted citizens far outweighs their contributions as illegals. It’s a win-win for everyone involved, except the Republican Party.
The most remarkable aspect of the immigration debate is that we’ve been able to dehumanize the issue entirely. We discuss immigration, assuming immigrants are humans, but there is no flesh and blood. Border security and voting blocs are the only calculus. What is good or bad for the country or the immigrants has no relevance to the 500 mindless politicians that occupy our Congress.
And while we have to be concerned with the well-being of the party of pigs, we can’t turn them into something they aren’t. Immigration is really about finding the nation’s soul. Maybe we need to develop a new test for retaining citizenship. Maybe you can’t be an American citizen if you don’t have a soul.
End Such ‘Gifts’
June 8, 2013
To the Editor.
So, Secretary of John State Kerry can quietly give the Muslim Brotherhood-controlled Egypt over $1.5 billion of our taxpayers’ money with no advance warning or news coverage? Is there nothing to stop the hemorrhaging of our money by these progressive liberals in Washington? No, we learned that they can repeatedly give that much money to them each year.
Isn’t it time for the people of this country to cry out and demand the end of such “gifts” to countries that are joining forces to destroy our country and liberties? They have 45 democracy workers, including 16 Americans, in prison for helping to establish civil liberties and promote democracy in Egypt.
We are throwing the money, that should be spent on our country’s needs, and tossing it into a desert full of warmongers. This sneaky deal is out of hand and must end.
Americans, awake from your slumber and implore our representatives to stop the rupturing of our wallets.
LYNDA A.W. EDWARDS