Letters to the Editor: 08.07.14

Our readers' comments

For Jeff Bogetti

My friend doesn’t live across anymore
Won’t see him when I go out the door
Can’t believe he’s still not there
His presence still in the air
His family so brokenhearted
That Jeff, so young, has too soon departed
Yet his joyful, protective soul remains
Under which blissful peace still reigns


Dorothy King
    East Hampton
    July 28, 2014

Dear Editor,
    It was with real sadness that we heard of the death of Dorothy King. She was a charter member of our society and served as our first vice president, as well as being the backbone of the beginning of our Springs Library. Her local knowledge and love of local history was amazing.
    She was a lovely lady and we will miss her.

    Springs Historical Society and Library

A Long Partnership
    August 2, 2014

Dear Editor,
    The Springs Improvement Society would like to thank the Springs School for its generous contribution to our Upgrade the Green project, wherein we are replacing dead and dying bushes around the cannon, planting shrubs in the front of the building, and assessing long-term needs for the health of the green.
    The Springs Improvement Society and the Springs School have a long history of partnership in the annual Springs School Art Show at Ashawagh Hall. This year’s Mystery Art Show gave the event a new dimension. The opening reception brought hundreds of people to Ashawagh Hall. It was attended by people from every segment of the Springs community. Schoolchildren with their families, local artists, and curious residents all filled the hall to buy a $20 mystery artwork or bid on mystery art donated by artists in the community.
    The Springs Improvement Society also thanks the Springs School for the opportunity given Springs residents to gather at our local meeting hall in a celebration of support for our school. The money raised that evening surpassed any other event held at the hall. Everyone who attended was proud to be a part of the Springs community.

    Springs Improvement Society

It May Be Our Last
    Loveland, Ohio
    July 30, 2014

Dear Editor:
    I am hoping that the locals reading this paper will help me make a memorable trip this year for my wife. Some of you we probably have met the past couple summers when we visited East Hampton, with my wife’s two service dogs in tow. The entire town has always been so gracious and accommodating to all of us, and this year I would like our annual visit to my wife’s physician in New York City and then our visit to East Hampton to be extraordinarily special, because it may be our last.
    As many of you have seen us and commented on our service dogs, you know my wife has scleroderma and has battled it for several years. Unfortunately, she is now facing another diagnosis, and has been referred to neurologists to rule out several nerve diseases (A.L.S., Huntington’s, Parkinson’s, etc.). Since I am not sure how these new symptoms will impact her already complicated history with scleroderma, I really want to make this a spectacular trip.
    My wife, Debbie, loves the restaurants, farmers markets, the beaches, everything about the South Fork. My hope is that the locals can give me some pointers, other ideas, and places the locals congregate — she would love this.
    If letters could be posted to The East Hampton Star, I would really appreciate all your valuable insights. We are planning on a week at the end of August.

    Thank you,

    Letters may be sent to The Star at Box 5002, East Hampton 11937, or emailed to editor@ehstar.com with “Debbie Gibson” in the subject line.  Ed.

As Great as Ever
    August 4, 2014

To the Editor,
    On July 26, my wife and I spent a pleasant day at the L.V.I.S. Fair. We have been going to the fair for years, bringing our children and their grandmother and having a wonderful time.
    One of the highlights of the fair has always been the chicken barbecue. This year, as we have in the past, we enjoyed it at the fairgrounds with some fun music. It was as great as ever. The East Hampton Lions Club prepared the meal with Russ Calemmo, gravy master, overseeing the barbecuing of the chicken. Tina Piette was the clam chowder queen and Bob Schaeffer was the barbecue director. They all did a super job and the barbecue was the best ever!
    Hope to see you all there next year!


Jungle of Ugliness
    August 1, 2014

Dear David,
    Just west of embattled Kirk Park is this sign, a monument to the preservation of Montauk as the Dodge City of the East.
    Speaking of traumatizing children, I understand that after viewing the above film upward of 30 percent of viewers never went back into the surf and the shark population was decimated.
    Just as an aside: Montauk is a hamlet of East Hampton. How come we don’t look anything like the other hamlets? Is there a separate zoning and enforcement policy to ensure that Montauk remains the depository and all-night party playground for the other Hamptons?
    The dignity and lessons that “Dark Elegy,” as a real-world monument against terrorism, could have brought to Montauk must have been threatening to the Coney Island mood of the present-day party capital of the Hamptons. “Dark Elegy,” appropriately screened and landscaped, in Kirk Park, could and should have been a welcome oasis in the crowded jungle of ugliness and crassness that has become the Downtown Montauk scene.
    Hey, I guess that it is what it is. But what will be left when it no longer “is”?


A Ghost Story
    August 3, 2014

Dear David,
    I long for the days when Joe Oppenheimer was building condos all over Montauk. You see, Joe lived here and everyone knew him. Whether we agreed with him or not, we could always talk to Joe.
    But now it seems our most important developers are ghosts. They hide behind limited liability companies or partnerships incorporated in Delaware, as well as behind their lawyers and local henchmen. Who are these men or women responsible for the most significant Montauk developments in years?
    In the spring we learned that Duryea’s Lobster Deck and related properties had been sold and, we were told, will become a world-class restaurant and marina. But by whom? The new owner prefers to remain anonymous. A ghost.
    Now we have the plans for the redevelopment of the East Deck Motel by ED40, a Delaware L.L.C., another ghost. And despite assurances by the owner’s front men that the project would not change the local character and would certainly not include a two-story structure, we now see plans for an expansion roughly equal to double the original site as well as a 35-foot-high, two-story building blocking any ocean view from neighbors across the street. So much for local character.
    With the stakes so high, don’t we have the right to know who is running the show? If all their intentions are good, why not come forward and man or woman up? This is too important to be a ghost story.


Is This What We Want?
    East Hampton
    August 3, 2014

Dear David,    
    Have you noticed the changes in East Hampton since Governor Cuomo’s hand-picked utility company, PSEG-LI, came to town? Gigantic utility poles and high-voltage transmission lines are snaking their way through residential neighborhoods, scenic vistas, and historic areas. How about the mess at the Amagansett substation? Is this really what we want for our town?
    We have spent years developing comprehensive plans as well as creating organizations such as the Ladies Village Improvement Society, Concerned Citizens of Montauk, the East Hampton Village Preservation Society, and the East Hampton Conservators to protect the integrity and beauty of our town. In addition, history has shown that aboveground power lines do not stand up to storms in our area. Burying the lines means more storm-resistant power for the East End.
    Come show your support and voice your concerns on Aug. 26 at 5 p.m. at the East Hampton Village Emergency Services Building-East Hampton Firehouse. Representatives from PSEG and the Department of Public Services Long Island will be present. We need action now, before the next big storm hits our town, and to preserve the unique qualities that make East Hampton so special. Our lives and livelihoods depend on it.
    To contact Governor Cuomo and our elected officials as well as to learn more about this PSEG transmission line project in East Hampton and how to help to bury the lines, go to facebook.com/ saveEH. 

    Save East Hampton

Tools of the Trade
    July 29, 2014

To the Editor,
    I have lived in East Hampton all of my 61 years and have lived in Springs since 1976.
    It was the perfect place to raise a family and I loved it here. Times were simple and life was easy. We didn’t care about what other people were doing because we were so busy with our own lives, and we kept our noses out of others’ business. Everyone was a friend, and we helped one another.
    The people who built our great town did it from their homes, sheds in the backyards, and from trailers and trucks. These were the tools that were needed in everyday life. These tools were nearby and kept on the property. If an emergency came in the middle of the night or on the weekend, a quick response was always welcome. The names Bennett, Miller, Parsons, King, and so many more have been here forever and were just a few of the tradespeople who built East Hampton. Most deals sealed with handshake.
    Now it seems some people are not impressed with the hard work our local people do. They want to take away the ability to keep the tools of the trade on private property. Trucks and trailers are as much a tool as a hammer or saw. The job can’t be done without the correct tools.
    I don’t see a problem with this. Very heavy construction equipment, such as excavators and tractor-trailers, are not the problem here, as most are owned by large companies. But it’s the vans, pickups, and trailers that are needed.
    People coming to our town should be glad for all the people who provide services at a moment’s notice. Instead they want to bring hardship to our working people. They don’t care about them until they need them, and they wouldn’t care where they parked their vehicles.
    Our town was doing fine without these people who want to change things to suit them. I guess they want their 15 minutes of fame. I think these people should be doing something else with their lives besides trying to tell me what I can and cannot do. It’s none of their business. Let’s just live peacefully and respect our town and all its people.


    August 2, 2014

To the Editor:
    I would like to commend your editorial regarding the modification of the zoning code that would define and limit the type of truck a working person could have on his property. This ill-thought-out proposal that could grossly impact tradesmen had been put forth as a trial balloon by the town board and immediately seen as lacking merit.
    The legislation sought to cobble together arcane pieces of the zoning code in an unintelligible way to achieve a no-truck goal. Apparently there had been no assessment of impacts. Beyond having major collateral damage to large segments of the community, the proposed law was meanspirited.
    As it became obvious that the law was a non-starter, the town supervisor started asking speakers who would be hurt by the legislation what type and number of trucks they had. Then he asked for agreement on what type of vehicle could be banned. Was this the goal of this law? To the credit of the harassed speakers, none advocated misfortune on another.
    If the reaction to opposition to legislation is to interrogate speakers at a public hearing on who can be put out of business, something is wrong in a major way. The town board must define what it intends before creating restrictive laws harming the workers who make up the bedrock of our community.

    East Hampton Town
    Republican Committee

The Truck Issue
    August 3, 2014

Dear David.
    The town board proposed a law dealing with the truck issue that appears to please no one. The proposed law is complex and cumbersome. It is difficult to understand what the proposal allows or doesn’t allow. But we do know it doesn’t provide a safe place for the kinds of prohibited vehicles to be housed when they are no longer allowed at one’s property, nor does it provide a timetable of when the law will go into effect. A safe commercial parking place would definitely need to be developed.
    It seems that the board, which has done herculean work on solving and taking on so many complex and languishing problems such as Lake Montauk and the airport since taking office, should go back to the drawing board on this one. A committee should be formed, a la the airport, composed of proponents from all sides and some independent folk, to work out a new law, a workable compromise, in the American way, that is reasonable and innovative. Of course, this committee must have cool-headed women on it. 
    We need to know that the town will respect the needs of its citizens.  After all, that is the purpose of government — to take care of the needs of its citizens, all of them.


Same Territory
    August 4, 2014

Dear David,
    The arguments about impending truck legislation here in East Hampton remind me of a subplot in the classic American musical “Oklahoma.” There, the farmers and the ranchers strongly disagree about their use of the same territory in that wonderful, bouncy song that sums it up, “The farmers and the cowhands should be friends . . . one man likes to push a plough, the other likes to chase a cow, but that’s no reason why they can’t be friends.”
    In Springs, the newer residents seeking quiet and a residential look to the neighborhood and the hard-working people parking their trucks next door are the “farmers and the ranchers” of our town, and we need them to become good neighbors. Fortunately, the patience and good will of our town board members, as well as of the interested parties, promise a breakthrough: Councilman Peter Van Scoyoc reports that a broad and “constructive dialogue” is under way with no haste or rushing through the issues, and that “all ideas are being aired and nothing is off the table.”
    By the way, what our good citizens are trying to do in the challenging environment of Springs is also what is happening in new efforts to resolve other problems, i.e., the airport issues, the formula store compromise — in short, the government of the town is really doing its job.
“Territory folks should stick together,
Territory folks should all be pals,
Cowboys dance with the farmers’ daughters,
Farmers dance with the ranchers’ gals.”


Formula Store Law
    East Hampton
    August 4, 2014

Dear David,
    Unfortunately the opponents of the proposed formula store law, to be voted on by the town board tonight, have distorted its purpose and intent. Contrary to their hysterical harangues at the last public meeting on July 17, it will not prevent formula stores. What it will prevent is the transformation of the historic districts of our town from their present low-key appearance to commercial strip malls.
    When the law was originally proposed in April, it contained an absolute prohibition of formula stores, also known as chain stores, in our historic districts, such as Main Street, Amagansett, and the Springs General Store in Springs. There was a group of people — mainly commercial real estate owners and their representatives — who opposed this absolute prohibition, and the town board heard them and revised its proposal by eliminating the absolute prohibition.
    Formula stores will now be allowed in our historic districts provided that their exteriors meld in with the surrounding buildings and architecture. A good example of this arrangement is the McDonald’s in Southold on the North Fork, which was built without the famous yellow arches.
    The preamble to the law states its purpose clearly, which is to preserve the rural nature of our town in accordance with the East Hampton Town Comprehensive Plan. Under the proposed law the town planning board would be required to prevent applicants from erecting McDonald’s yellow arches if the store is a McDonald’s and 7-Eleven signs if it is a 7-Eleven. New businesses will be required to build storefronts that meld with the existing architecture of the surrounding community.
    The elimination of the prohibition is not enough for the real estate owners. They object to anything that will prevent them from offering their properties for rent to businesses that would be able to build stores without regard to the provisions of the comprensive plan, a plan that was adopted at the beginning of the 2000s following an extensive evaluation of the ecological protections and aesthetic values that our leaders found necessary to preserve the natural environment desired by our citizens. The proposed formula store law carries out these objectives.
    The law is part and parcel of how a community functions to protect itself from some of its members who have no regard beyond what they perceive as their own self-interests. We don’t allow people to build houses that occupy more than a specified area of a building lot, or to erect fencing that is greater than six feet, or build a swimming pool that is not set back a specified number of feet from an adjacent landowner’s property line, or build a two-family house in a residential area zoned for one-family homes. We don’t allow people to drive their cars at whatever speed they choose.
    We live in a society where the needs of the community at large as determined by our lawmakers are taken into account. The result is that limitations are imposed on the few for the benefit of the many. Without such a system there would be havoc. Do we want a string of stores on Main Street in Amagansett made up of McDonald’s arches, the 7-Eleven sign, a Big Whopper, a fluorescent Starbucks sign, etc.? Do we want a 7-Eleven sign adjacent to the historic gas pumps that have stood in front of the Springs General Store for over 60 years?
    I do not believe a majority of us do.
    I urge residents of East Hampton to come to the meeting tonight and show their support for the passage of the proposed formula store law.


The Conservators
    August 1, 2014

To the Editor:
    It’s flattering that last week the East Hampton Conservators placed in all the local newspapers a quote from my letter to The Star of two months ago, placing it at the very top of their no doubt expensive full-page ad.
    It’s also flattering that the ad confirmed my prediction that there would be a flood of self-adulatory rhetoric coming our way from the Conservators. Only this time, in a burst of welcome modesty, they instead praised our new town board for things they haven’t even done yet. It’s like giving Obama the Nobel Peace Prize about five minutes after his inauguration, and we know how well that’s worked out.
    The ad avoids the other half of my letter, which questioned the real motives of the Conservators. No one would argue with their lofty goals, but their activities in pursuit of those goals deserve scrutiny. They have consistently and almost exclusively endorsed Democratic candidates, even during the worst days of the McGintee-era misdeeds and fiascos, rendering their avowed nonpartisan status a joke.
    Are the Conservators merely a group of concerned citizens, or a fund-raising mechanism for the Democratic Party? Their record indicates the latter.


A Sound Approach
    August 4, 2014

Dear Editor:
    One of the criticisms of the formula store legislation is that it is a radical, untested, potentially illegal plan in being concerned with the preservation of the look, the nature, and the quality of life of the town by simply requiring that any formula store seeking to rent or buy must obtain approval by the town planning board. This procedure consists of an architectural review, a traffic study, and, if satisfactory, will be presented to the public at a hearing prior to the planning board’s decision.
    Reading last Friday’s New York Times, page A19, and using my old friend Google, I find that there are 28 towns with similar legislation banning or limiting restaurants, businesses, or both. Many of them (Port Jefferson, Ogunquit, Me., Sanibel, Fla., Nantucket, Ma.) are similar in attracting upscale vacation clientele. They seem to have got the message. It is a sound approach both aesthetically and financially. These towns, like ours, have a look that is unique and if tampered with will, in time, have a negative effect.
    As I understand it, these towns have survived quite satisfactorily with these rules in place and so will we.


    July 28, 2014

Dear David,
    Two kids are talking during a visit to the new, splendiferous East Hampton Library’s children’s wing:
    “Can you read me this?”
    “Townwide re-assess-ment debated.”
    “What does that mean?”
    “It means that the town may have to move some asses.”
    “Oh. I do not know these things. I am 6.”
    “Six is the new 12.”
    “I go to Wainscott School.”
    “My unborn brother is going there.”
    “My father says, if there are more than 20 kids in the Wainscott School, his taxes will go up!”
    “Springs School is too crowded. It’s not fair!”
    “I guess they’ll have to move those asses, won’t they?”
    “Here’s my contact information.”
    “You go, girl!”
    All good things,


Montauk Mustangs
    August 4, 2014

Dear Editor,
    Last week, there was a letter published from a neighbor addressing noise and the lack of enforcement of that ordinance. In the letter, it was mentioned that the neighbors generating the noise were at a house hosting a number of college players from the Montauk Mustangs. I cannot attest to the noise or behavior of the players at the house, but I would just like to relay my experiences with the team.
    The Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League approached the Montauk School Board last fall about using the school field for a team based in Montauk. The season would last from early June until the end of July. They said they would have to upgrade the field and make some changes so that it would play true to a collegiate level of play. They spent around $20,000 upgrading the infield dirt, installing a new fence, and purchasing outfield padding. The league paid for all expenses. In the future, if they continue in Montauk, they hope to build dugouts and construct terraced seating in the hillside. The field looks great, and, of course, the school eam gets the benefit of this upgrade.
    In last week’s letter, the players were portrayed as noisy, playing loud music, and staying up late. The fact that they were 20-year-old ballplayers living together in Montauk in the summer, I imagine there could be some truth to that, though, despite the multitude of calls to the police, no citations were issued. Also, casting them in solely that light would not be the full story. There were many positive experiences and benefits to the community.
    A quick list of their volunteering (during June and July while playing six games a week) would include volunteering as a team at two triathlons, setting up the Montauk Library book fair booth (at 5 a.m.), setting up the farmers market on Thursdays, giving free clinics to the Little League, and giving free clinics to the community. And I have probably missed a couple. If they had been asked to do more, I am sure they would have. I know they volunteered without hesitation the time I requested their help.
    My son participated in a three-hour-a day weeklong baseball clinic. It was put on by the coaching staff and a number of players, at a great price. He’s 6 years old and spent a week working out with college scholarship ballplayers in the July sun. The players were engaging, encouraging, fun, and even a bit demanding when necessary. He left the last day high-fiving and fist-bumping the players, and really wants us to house a player or two next summer.
    The Mustangs lived with families, and the host family would provide room, laundry, and meals. One busy local woman, who housed two ballplayers, came to me about 10 days into hosting and thanked for me for getting her involved. She said the ballplayers were more than polite and considerate and were role models for her two kids.
    Again, I don’t know about the noise but there seems to have not been any citations issued. My guess is that, given how busy the police are this time of the year, they would have written citations if warranted. Otherwise, they were just wasting their time. I don’t know if other neighbors were bothered, but the letter indicates that they were the only ones.
    I do know that Bob Aspenleiter and Lynden Restrepo went above and beyond in getting this team together for the season. Simply put, without them there would not have been a team. A lot of people worked hard on this but they were the ones to open their doors and take in the players who hadn’t been housed a week before the season began. The league was this close to pulling the team out of Montauk. They made this financial and comfort sacrifice for the sake of the league, the school, and the community.
    This was the first year of a team in Montauk and everyone learned a lot. There were plenty of bumps in the road but also a lot of great moments. Hopefully, we addressed issues as they arose and things will be smoother in the future. We have many ideas going forward and welcome any and all participation. 
    It’s a shame that this noise issue at one house had to be highlighted when there were so many other positive aspects of having this team in Montauk. Oh yeah, they also played some entertaining baseball games.

    Thank you,

My Lovely Neighbors
    August 5, 2014

Dear Editor,
    With reference to the letter to the editor last week from my neighbor, it’s evident that not even the 30-foot trees or the prison-barricading fences that she and her husband enclosed themselves in will make them happy neighbors. Perhaps she should have been named Remorse instead of Joy, as our idea of joy is being surrounded by family and friends, helping each other, and enjoying ourselves with loud songs and laughter.
    Since the day they moved into our neighborhood (a neighborhood where most if not all of the families surrounding them had lived since the late 1950s), I have not heard or seen anything joyful go on at her residence, and for someone who claims to be in touch with nature, “wanting to feel the fresh night air, the gentle breeze of honeysuckle, the crickets chirping in the grass, the loon on the lake,” it sounds to me like she would be happier on a 100-acre parcel in a remote place where there are no people having fun and enjoying life!
    I do recall there was a time when she liked her neighbor and allowed her daughter to swim in my pool, the same pool that her husband tried every attempt through the town to not allow us to have! My, have things changed. Quite frankly, for the last few years my lovely neighbors have utilized our Police Department to make bogus calls for events such as my son’s 12th birthday gathering, a radio playing while lying by the pool midday, and while my family was enjoying an early evening toasting of ’smores over a fire pit!
    Perhaps remorse has set in, and maybe they didn’t find “a quiet street, not too many neighbors,” but instead a joyful home with lots of kids and activity, and, guess what? Noise.

    Best regards with loud laughter,

Feral Cat Poem #75

Where have all the feral cats gone?
Where, oh where can they be?
Did ARF run another Big Fix sweep
and forget to hit Return?
Or were they:
Herded into internment camps
their papers can be checked?
Deported in the dead of night?
Citizen scientists want to know.
Was it climate change?
Eerie Lake Erie algae?
Too much CO2?
Helicopter noise?
A Putin plot?
The Koch Brothers?
(If it can happen to our feral cats,
who’s next?)


Blame Where It Belongs
    August 1, 2014

Dear David:
    In reading reports on the Israel-Gaza war, I weighed Israel’s actions against what the United States might do in similar circumstances.
    Let’s assume Mexico lobbed missiles into Texas or sent soldiers dressed in U.S. Army uniforms through underground tunnels to Arizona, where they shot and killed the Border Patrol and civilians. What would we do? History provides the answer. In World War II, the U.S. and Great Britain fire-bombed Dresden, a cultural center with no military significance. The death toll numbered 25,000 civilians.
    At the time, I was 12. I thought the bombing was justified. It shortened the war and gave the German people a taste of the horrific acts their country had visited on others.
    And then there were Hiroshima and Nagasaki. We dropped atomic bombs on those cities, killing 166,000 civilians in Hiroshima and 80,000 in Nagasaki. In 1945, I cheered when I heard about the bombing. So did most Americans. It brought an end to the war and spared the lives of our men and women in the armed forces.  
    World War II ended almost 70 years ago. Was it ancient history — an atavistic throwback to a bloody era now rejected as cruel and inhumane? Nothing of the kind. The Iraq War reflects that war and atrocities are common bedfellows in modern times, as in days of yore.
    U.S. intelligence implicated Saddam Hussein in the 9/11 terrorist attack. Our country retaliated with a military assault code-named Shock and Awe. Its goal: to destroy the enemy’s infrastructure and its food, water, electricity, communications, and transportation.
    Shock and Awe leveled Iraq and killed thousands of civilians. Eleven years later, that country is still reeling.
    Unlike the indiscriminate bombing of Iraq, Israel does not intentionally target civilians. If civilians are shot, it is because Hamas uses them as human shields and fires missiles from schools, mosques, United Nations shelters, and hospitals — supposed safe havens for civilians. Who’s to blame for the killing of civilians? As reported in The New York Times, Israel’s Arab neighbors (Egypt, the Emirates, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia) put the blame where it belongs: on Hamas, but sadly, not the U.N.
    The U.N. did not deem Shock and Awe a war crime or a crime against humanity, charges which it has leveled against Israel while giving Hamas a free pass. Does the U.N. have a double standard — one for Israel and another for everyone else?
    Fortunately for Israel, its prime minister will not be guided by the U.N.’s skewed views. He will do what is necessary to protect Israel and its citizens. If that means the annihilation of Hamas and the Palestinians who support it, so be it.


The War on Drugs
    East Hampton
    July 30, 2014

To the Editor:
    The New York Times’s call for the legalization of marijuana should be applauded as a step in the right direction in ending the war on drugs. Amazing that with all its high-powered intellectual talent The Times was so late to the table on this issue, demonstrating that conservatives don’t have a monopoly on stupidity and ignorance.
    As Bill Bennett (the most pathetic drug tsar in the drug war’s pathetic history) once said, “Saying no is not enough if you don’t love God.” Or something similar to that.
    Exactly 40 years ago, I worked with a group that presented a study to the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs explaining that the only solution to the drug problem in the U.S. was legalization. Forty years later there is absolutely no evidence to contradict that supposition.
    We never really knew how many people took drugs, had problems with drugs, etc. The laws prohibiting drug use by individuals had no foundation in the Constitution and even less in reality. Congress passed laws based on blind stupidity and a desire to punish people for political and racial reasons.
    Nixon and Rockefeller were the standard-bearers for utilizing the Prohibition apparatus that lost its usefulness when Prohibition ended. They did an amazing job, destroying millions of families, our prison system, our law enforcement system, overburdening our legal system, and costing us trillions of tax dollars. Yet despite all this destruction we persevere.
    Imagine what the country would be like if our prison population was 40 percent smaller? Our police departments had the time to deal with serious crimes? Our budget had $500 billion a year more for other programs and our deficits? A few million families with two parents productive and paying taxes? If Bill Bennett wasn’t ideologically impotent he could probably grasp this too.
    Marijuana’s virtues far outweigh its negative side. Unlike alcohol, it doesn’t destroy your liver and your immune system and provoke violence. It can be medicinal and calming, and reduce dependence on mind-altering chemicals like Valium and Prozac. It does have the cancer component of tobacco, but at a much lower level, and it can certainly distort reality (which we all need a break from).
    Reality: Anyone, 12 years or older, can buy any drug in any part of the country as long as they have the money to pay for it. Yet only a small proportion of the population indulges, and almost everyone concludes that drugs are boring and unsatisfying. Recognizing that the war on drugs is a 100-percent failure and that its existence has come at an enormous cost to the country is not rocket science.
    The bottom line regarding marijuana is that the government has no right to tell us what we can or cannot put into our bodies. It can regulate, forewarn us, and punish us for behavior that breaks the law.
    Is personal responsibility simply conservative bullshit (everyone knows it is), or does it mean we are obligated to take care of ourselves?
    I don’t advocate smoking dope for anyone. Nothing could be more boring than being in a room of stoned-out, brain-dead people. However, our government needs to get a life and give us a pass on this one.


Getting to ’Em?
    East Hampton
    August 3, 2014

Dear Editor,
    A vaudevillian whose act was harshly criticized once remarked that “every knock is a boost.” That’s the way I feel about the recent spate of critical letters published here regarding my political comments and defense of Barack Obama and his presidency.
    Getting to ’em, am I?
    I won’t take too much time away from my golf game to reply to all of the ridiculous content in the letter from John Porta, which is merely a recitation of every malicious falsehood broadcast by Fox Faux News and its phony right-wing coterie of talk-radio hosts. I am sorry Mr. Porta has not benefited from the rebounded economy and record stock market values, but I am sure that if he continues to hang around the railroad station someone who has benefited will give him the handout he seeks.
    But he shouldn’t count on the guy from Sagaponack who takes, but doesn’t give, and who, as an alleged Dodger fan from 1951, must still shudder every time the names Bobby Thomson and Ralph Branca are mentioned.
    As for our local God and country gal, she is so far gone and misinformed that it would take too long to educate her.

    P.S. I leave any comments about John Whitney’s anti-Israel letter to be responded to by others who may also abhor such a biased and misleading letter and are surely more qualified than I am to refute this guy on the subject.