Letters to the Editor: 03.08.18

Our readers' comments

A Full Life

East Hampton

February 12, 2018

Dear Editor,

We were saddened to hear of the passing of Chris Russo. We knew he had been fighting some health issues in the last years, but he was such a vibrant personality that it did not keep him from living a full life. We remember his love of his bullmastiff companions and will always be grateful for the many trees he and his people planted along the roads during his tenure as town highway superintendent.

Our sympathy to Diane and all his family and friends.

PETE and HEATHER ANDERSON

Charlie Bergman

Amagansett

February 28, 2018

Dear David,

Charlie Bergman died on Feb. 25. He ran the Pollock-Krasner Foundation since its inception. He was a lifelong visitor to the East End and an integral activist part of our and, indeed, the international arts community.

It was my good fortune that Charlie and his spouse, Stuart Levy, spent a lot of time in my home in Amagansett. Charlie Bergman was a man of impeccable manners, insightful, sensitive, and funny. Ice cream made him particularly happy.

There are so many Charlie stories, but the time having been summoned to assist at his doctor’s office, where Charlie feared that his sudden physical misalignment was the result of a stroke: “Mr. Bergman, you are bent because your suspenders are crooked.”

Charlie’s bedroom was near mine in Amagansett. Lately, we kept the door ajar in case he called during the night. One night, I was awakened by peals of laughter, as Charlie was telling himself jokes in his sleep and cracking himself up.

Rest in joy, my dear friend.

All good things,

DIANA WALKER

Love and Support

Montauk

March 1, 2018

To the Editor:

When faced with hardship or loss there is nothing more comforting than receiving love from those around you. The outpouring of love and support has never made us feel more grateful to be part of the Montauk community.

There are not enough words to express our gratitude but to each and every one of you who dedicated your time, food, or love, we thank you. 

With sincere appreciation,

HELEN and 

ALLISON STUBBMANN 

Somehow Dropped It

East Hampton

March 5, 2018

To the Editor,

My name is Joseph, and I wanted to share my story with others. My girlfriend, Julie, and I went to the city to see a concert on our college break. When we arrived to the city, we had some time to spare, so we stopped at Starbucks for a cappuccino. Then we headed toward the theater to watch our concert. 

After it was over, it was quite late, and we were rushing to catch the train back to East Hampton. When the conductor came around to collect the funds, I realized that I did not have my wallet.

Unbeknownst to me, I somehow dropped it through my travels in the city. I panicked, thinking about my important information that was now lost. A wonderful night turned into an awful experience. 

Amazingly enough, a young man (Frankie) messaged Julie on Facebook, letting her know that he had found my wallet sitting on a bench at Starbucks. He informed her that he was going to mail it to the post office box that was on my license.

A few days later I received my wallet back with everything intact. All of my credit cards, license, even the $100 cash was still there.

The moral and goodness of this experience is that there are still some honest and wholesome people left in this world. 

Thanks, Frankie.

JOSEPH CIRILLO

The Finest

East Hampton

February 24, 2018

To the Star:

The East Hampton Town police are the finest and dedicated group and individuals I have ever known in my entire life.

My life has caused a lot of laughs and caused a lot of tears. The love of others, such as the town police, has saved my life.

ANTHONY J. COLLETTI

Short Stories

Springs

March 2, 2018

Dear David:

Thank you for the announcement in yesterday’s (March 1) Star about Story Salon East. Yes, we meet on Wednesdays in Ashawagh Hall, but I should point out that we meet at 6 p.m., not 6:30.

 All are welcome to just listen and enjoy a variety of short stories (the time limit is seven minutes) and all are welcome to participate. You may publish my email address and phone number. As the host of Story Salon East I welcome a call or email from anyone who wants more information about our program or anyone who wants to tell a story.

STEVE SOBEL

631-604-2511

 N327WT@optimum.net

Laughing Again

Amagansett

March 4, 2018

Dear Mr. Rattray,

The other day Mary and I were walking somewhere without purpose. She was singing that song “Sundown” by Gordon Lightfoot. “Sundown, you better take care If I find you been creeping ’round my back stairs.” Blah. Blah.

Unrelated to her singing I spontaneously burst out laughing. “What’s so funny?” she asked.

“Nothing really,” I said. Then started laughing again, harder.

“Seriously, what’s so funny? What are you laughing about?”

“Well it’s probably stupid, but I just thought of a funny first sentence for a letter to The Star.”

“Okay, what is it?”

“All right, here it is: ‘Dear Mr. Rattray, First of all I have to ask you to stop calling me Frosty.’ That’s it, the first sentence.” And with that I began laughing again.

“So you think that’s funny?”

“I do.”

“Has David Rattray ever called you Frosty?”

“No.”

“Has anyone ever called you Frosty?”

“No.” Now I’m laughing-coughing uncontrollably.

“Do you want to be called Frosty?”

“Not really.”

“Honestly, I don’t think it’s that 

funny.”

At this point I was buckled over, holding my sides.

Sincerely,

LYLE GREENFIELD

Without Protection

Bridgehampton

February 5, 2018

To the Editor:

Blast the blowers. Yes, everybody hates the sound of leaf blowers. The more serious and real problem here is not the noise, but what these landscapers are doing to the health of these young men who are being used as work mules.

They are herded every day without protection for their backs, eyes, ears, or lungs. This is an issue that we should be concerned about, for they need our protection.

ROCCO LICCARDI

Dead Issue

East Hampton

February 17, 2018

To the Editor:

Thank you for your recent article “Inns Make Plea for More Amenities.” (Feb. 8) Indeed, Village Trustee Richard Lawler had it dead to rights when he said that hotel owners knew what they were getting into when they bought their properties.

However, the hotel owners might have saved themselves some time and effort had they checked through past issues of The Star. There was a time when the library thought to expand, to enlarge its facilities so that more people could come and, you know, read books. The village fought that proposal tooth and nail.

How much less likely that the board would permit people to come into the village in the evening to, you know, have fun. No one summed it up better than the mayor: Hospitality, at least in East Hampton, is a “dead issue.”

Sincerely,

STEVE HOWARD

Moral Responsibility

Springs

March 5, 2018

Dear David,

I have been in the public eye my entire professional career. First as East Hampton’s last elected bay constable, state police officer, state police sergeant assigned to Washington Heights and the South Bronx, as a police union representative, founding P.B.A. president of New York State’s fifth biggest police union, union legislative lobbyist in Albany, and as a candidate for East Hampton Town supervisor. None of this has occurred in a vacuum. I also am more than aware that politics can be a contact sport despite my best efforts to stay above the fray.

The First Amendment reads “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” So important is freedom of the press that it was included in that First Amendment.

Along with that constitutional protection comes great responsibility, to be honest, nonbiased, accurate, and truthful. Unfortunately, David, your recent editorial “Let’s Keep the Springs Debate Above Animosity” takes great leaps of speculation in what you profess to be my positions and beliefs. Since we have never met to discuss my views and opinions you have no idea what they are. As you did in the supervisor endorsements, you have made broad assumptions about my views and opinions without ever speaking to or meeting with me. 

As the editor of The East Hampton Star, the community deserves honest unbiased reporting. As the editor of one of the town’s three newspapers you, as do they, have an ethical and moral responsibility to be thorough, accurate, forthright, and honest. Integrity is everything. It is reprehensible and outlandish that you would make such biased race- baiting assumptions about me without the benefit of ever speaking to me. 

I believe you owe the East Hampton community and me an apology, as apparently The East Hampton Star does not shine for all. 

MANUEL M. VILAR


Multiple members of the East Hampton Star editorial staff, including the editor, had conversations with Mr. Vilar during his unsuccessful campaign for East Hampton Town supervisor in 2017. Ed.

Retract It

Springs

March 3, 2018

Dear Mr. Rattray:

The editorial in last week’s Star “Let’s Keep the Springs Debate Above Animosity” was malicious and inaccurate. It was a cheap 11th-hour smear and should be retracted.

To be very clear, the claim that I “inappropriately echoed” any divisive rhetoric concerning the Springs School is false. The only concerns I have ever raised about the project have been fiscal and logistical. I call upon you to either substantiate your claim or retract it in print.

Furthermore, it is misleading to contextualize the Springs expansion issue as a partisan one. Indeed, opponents of the Springs plan span the political and ideological spectrum. I’m sure it came as a surprise to some of the ardent Democratic partisans who staunchly oppose the project that a vote against the bond was a vote for Donald Trump, or the “wall,” or whatever other tenuous links you drew in an unctuous grab bag of boogeymen that was presented to your readers as editorial reportage. 

I reiterate my objections to this latest affront by The Star and my party’s deep disappointment in you and your paper’s commentary. A formal retraction and apology are warranted and expected.

AMOS GOODMAN

Should Be Embarrassed

Springs

March 2, 2018

To the Editor:

The Star editorial “Let’s Keep the Springs Debate Above Animosity” has needlessly provoked more animosity, which in fact ought to be directed at you, sir.

The editor has never spoken to Mr. Vilar about this topic, nor has Mr. Vilar ever even implied what you said. Only “bad hombres” employ racist dog whistles in this kind of matter, and you, Mr. Editor, should be embarrassed.

Spoken language is not the issue here. Rather it is the overcrowding of rented single-family homes that is overwhelming our Springs School. And we, the citizens of Springs, must bear the heftiest tax burden in all of East Hampton. Putting animosity into this subject was exactly your intent!

FRED WEINBERG

Smeared Everyone

Springs

March 3, 2018

Dear Mr. Rattray,

Until your editorial “Let’s Keep the Springs Debate Above Animosity” was shameful. 

Until your editorial, neither politics nor so-called “ethnic divisions” have marred the debate about the Springs School construction. I and others in the Springs community have been working on this project for well over three years. The group, comprising Democrats, Republicans, Independents, blanks, whatever, has worked very hard and well together. Since day one we have been concerned about the lack of transparency, professionalism, design, scope, and cost of the Springs School construction project. No one in this group has ever been “seduced by racist rhetoric.” In your fervor to smear Republicans, you have nauseatingly smeared everyone hat has been involved in this nonpartisan effort. 

Moreover, your scurrilous attacks on Messrs. Vilar and Goodman illustrate your own abhorrent prejudice. You accuse Mr. Vilar of using “dog whistle” rhetoric to “hype divisions” against immigrants. He did no such thing. As a first-generation son of non-English speaking immigrants from Portugal, Mr. Vilar heads a major New York State law enforcement labor union. As such, Mr. Vilar has done more to improve the lives of his diversified membership, which includes a good number of immigrants, than The East Hampton Star could ever do in a century.  

Regarding your defamation of Mr. Goodman, your intolerance is stunning. Having made no public or private statement using “irresponsible rhetoric” that I am aware of, he is an easy target for you, isn’t he? As a gay, Jewish Republican, you are not the first nor will you be the last, to target him with obnoxious bigotry. So much for “working to be more inclusive,” Mr. Rattray.

I am not only outraged by your editorial but I am achingly disappointed in you. The media decry the absence of civil discourse in today’s culture. This years-long Springs School debate had been civil, respectful, poductive, and devoid of any rancor until you injected the ugly note of partisanship and racism. Your next editorial should be an apology to everyone you have maligned.

Respectfully,

CAROLE CAMPOLO

Vile Rhetoric

Springs

March 4, 2018

Dear David,

Just when I think that The Star and its editorial board can’t sink much lower in its contempt for your fellow East Hamptoners (who happen to prefer being Republican), you always shock and sadden me by doing just that —- sinking lower. 

Your slanted and derogatory editorial (“Let’s Keep the Springs Debate Above Animosity”) is just one more example of the vile rhetoric we Republicans have grown to expect from the radical left — but not from so-called balanced journalists and the local paper of record.

You have done yourself, once again, a disservice and your insult should be formally withdrawn by written apology. 

The only one here blowing the racist “dog whistle” is The Star by slandering two fine gentlemen I happen to know personally and I have never heard a racist comment come from either one. For you to extrapolate some sort of untrue narrative, that isn’t remotely honest, is unprofessional, mean, and just plain unfair. 

Your rude comments play into the stereotypes many on your side of the political spectrum come to the table of public discourse already believing in. Anyone, no matter how concerned with the issue at hand, who disagrees with your mind-set doesn’t deserve to be heard and is automatically branded a bigot, racist, etc.

We will never have a fair and open discussion with you and your friends if you constantly come to the debate convinced the other side is beneath you and therefore worthy of contempt.

Thanks for making things worse and for muddying the waters of legitimate discussion on a matter of great import so that now no one wants to dive in, let alone drink from, that polluted pool you have created. 

Regards,

DON CIRILLO

Extra Administrators

Amagansett 

March 4, 2018

Dear David,

Amagansett was always known as a small public school with the students receiving an education in a somewhat “private” school atmosphere. Now the school remains the same small public school, but for the past few years it has hired two additional retired administrators (who have retirement packages already in place). The budget is funded by Amagansett taxpayers! In the past, the school only had one superintendent/principal, whose goal was focused on improving the school through expanding educational programs of the children. This had the approval of taxpayers in the district.

For example:

• With the declining enrollment, the school adopted the pre-K program to allow 3 and 4-year-old students to receive educational advantages.

• The opportunity arose to purchase a house on Miankoma Lane to house their superintendent, who was having difficulty finding a year-round rental.

• Again the school had the opportunity to purchase land behind the school for the housing of their transportation department and to enlarge the property in order to expand the school if additional room was needed.

All three of these improvements were voted and passed by the taxpayers for the betterment of the students and community. 

At the last school board meeting on Feb. 27, I asked a few questions under community comments. I asked about enrollment of K-6, the cost of educating an Amagansett student, the name of the auditors, what is done with the money rolled over from the previous school year, what is the name of the firm doing the search, and why a firm hasn’t been selected yet? This is extraordinary since the board knows the superintendent’s contract will be expiring in June 2018 and the $20,000 in earmarked funds has been allocated since March 2017 to do a search.

President of the school board Peterson replied, “Mrs. Tritt would be staying on as a consultant!” What does that mean? Does that mean we are paying her all summer at her present salary of almost $1,000 per day? Will she be staying in the house that was intended to house a superintendent/principal working for the school district? (She should be paying rent, since she will possibly be a consultant, not a superintendent.) Will we be still paying for three administrators? Why is this happening?

Amagansett has to question this school board. The board needs to hear from the community. Silence is not an answer! If we don’t speak up as a community, Mrs. Tritt and the school board will keep the administrators. If you can’t come to the meetings, you can write letters to your local paper, but definitely come to vote on Tuesday, May 15 to eliminate the two administrators. Eliminating the two extra administrators will not affect the students’ activities or their curriculum. The programs for the students are under a separate spending code and have nothing to do with the taxpayers paying unnecessary salaries/benefits for the additional administrators not needed.

Hope to see you at the next school board meeting.

Best Regards,

MARY EAMES

Lethal Weapon

Amagansett

March 4, 2018

Dear David,

I am a longtime reading teacher from a Long Island school district who is presently retired. I keep wondering how I would have handled a gun in the setting of my classroom. For the sake of safety, it would have to be under lock and key, in a drawer or in a closet. 

Would I have always been conscious of a lethal weapon close by? Maybe afraid to turn my back on its hiding place as I taught my lesson, often in small groups at different locations in the room? And if that feared moment occurred when there was a threat at our door or in the hall, would I be able to control my own terror long enough to unlock the secret place, retrieve the gun to take on the intruder? I ponder these questions frequently. Surely there is a better way than arming teachers.

RONA KLOPMAN

Most Deplorable

Plainview, N.Y.

March 3, 2018

To David:

Please help me decide which of these 543 people is the most deplorable and despicable:

#1 Scott Peterson, the on-campus school resource officer, sheriff’s deputy who shirked his duty and cowardly stayed outside for four minutes (240 seconds!) while Nikolas Cruz shot 17 students and teachers dead, or

#2 Scott Peterson, who murdered his wife, Lacy, and their unborn son some years ago, or

#3 Scott Israel, the shameless sheriff who claims “amazing leadership” over a department that could have stopped the killing before it began, or

#4-6 The three other “Broward coward” deputies who did not go inside to “kill the killer,” or

#7-8 The N.R.A.’s Wayne LaPierre and Dana Loesch, or

#9-543 The 535 members of Congress, who didn’t ban assault rifles (like Nikolas Cruz’s), even after Adam Lanza used one to slaughter 20 6 and 7-year-old first grade children (plus 6 of their teachers) at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. 

Or is it a 543-way tie?

RICHARD SIEGELMAN

Time Has Been Wasted

Amagansett

March 5, 2018

David,

Nothing is perfect, but procrastination is a sorry solution for anything. Seniors need a new, modern center, not a redo of an old bar and grill. Let’s hope that this project’s engineer is not the same one that built the courthouse in reverse.

Seniors need much more space — now! More seniors from the baby boom generation will explode the present (or a bit larger) facility. The town board seems to continue with avoiding the proper solution of confirming the proposed new building and avoiding the pressing problems.

Most seniors need companionship, not a decentralized approach. Again, too much time has been wasted. The time is now to get started with a good solution, not wait for some perfect solution for a major problem.

NICK STEPHENS

Let’s Get Inventive

Montauk

March 3, 2018

Dear David:

Sprightly, indeed. (“Sprightly Seniors: What Do They Want?” editorial, Feb. 22)

Well, this sprightly old dame would like to see a public center of the size of the proposed senior citizens center put to a dual purpose, perhaps even triple. The Town of East Hampton is in desperate need of recreation for teens. Local working families are in desperate need of reliable, low-cost nursery and preschool care. Let’s get inventive here. The kitchen and dining room are already drawn in on a large scale. Recreation space can be scheduled to accommodate multiple purposes.

One of the main reasons sprightly seniors don’t go to senior citizens centers is because we don’t care for the idea of being warehoused away from a diversity of ages and cultures. We like to hear children’s laughter and share the sorrow of their tears. And we have a common obligation to know and understand our kids. We like to see the faces of our whole community. We also have lots to give, and can cuddle babies, tutor, and listen to the stories of the older children.

I reference you to “Close Harmony,” a 1982 Academy Award-winning short documentary by Nigel Noble, a long-term resident of Springs. 

Cheers,

JANET (SPRIGHTLY) VAN SICKLE

Energy Choices

East Hampton

March 5, 2018

Dear David, 

LIPA is scrabbling to supply more power for the East End. While the future will give us more options, today’s most practical immediate renewable energy choices are solar and wind.

The current offshore wind project is designed to supply enough green electricity to power 50,000 East End homes. By contrast, in the sunny Southwest, with solar panels that move to follow the sun during the day, it generally takes 32 acres of solar panels to power 1,000 homes — this translates to 1,600 acres of panels to power 50,000 homes. Finding even hundreds of acres — let alone 1,600 arces — for solar panels in East Hampton is highly questionable. 

One enticing suggestion has been to deploy solar panels over much of the airport’s 600 acres. This is unrealistic for several reasons: (1) a large portion of the airport is contiguous forest over a water recharge area for our sole-source aquifer and should not be denuded (2) many other open areas at the airport are meadow — another important element in our environment that is in short supply in East Hampton, and (3) with prime industrial land at the airport renting for about $40,000 per acre per year, solar panel installations could not justify the cost. There will be some airport areas suitable for solar panel installation, but nowhere near the 600 acres suggested.

This does not mean that we should all blindly support the present offshore wind project without question. The East Hampton Group for Good Government will hold a public forum this spring at which a panel of proponents and opponents will help us all better understand fully the facts needed for an informed decision. 

ARTHUR MALMAN

Chairman

East Hampton Group 

for Good Government

Choose

Springs

March 3, 2018

Dear Editor:

Still debating the so-called facts?

Finite fossil fuels vs, infinite renewable energy. Coal and Oil vs, solar and wind. CO2 pollution vs. clean air and oceans. Death vs. life.

Choose, as if your child’s life depends on it. Well, it does.

LARRY S. SMITH

Trustee Deliberations

East Hampton

March 4, 2018

Dear David,

Thank you for your February 22 off-shore wind editorial, “Mistaken Trajectory.” In the last paragraph you referred to “the effect of climate change on sea level rise and shorelines, as well as marine acidification, both linked to soaring carbon dioxide emissions.” In all trustee discussions I have witnessed on the proposed wind farm feasibility, there has not been any reference to or consideration of the impact of a warming ocean and other growing climate change challenges, to long-term ocean habitat productivity. The East Hampton trustees owe this community a conversation on what it means to the town’s natural resources, if the town is to continue its energy dependence on fossil fuel resources. 

In 2014, East Hampton Town made a historic commitment, the first in New York State, to replace fossil fuels with 100 percent clean energy resources. Reaching this goal will make the town free from contributing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere from energy generated resources. In order to accomplish the “climate-sensitive future” your editorial calls for, the town’s energy sustainability committee is working from its clean energy portfolio to meet the town’s goal.

Without offshore wind power the Deepwater wind farm will deliver once operational, this goal is not possible in our planned future. East Hampton Town’s clean energy agenda, in response to accelerating climate change impacts, should be included in the trustees’ wind farm deliberations and public engagements. 

Sincerely,

Linda James 

Chair

East Hampton Energy 

Sustainability Committee

Office Hours

Amagansett

March 5, 2018

Dear Editor,

Over the last several months the Deepwater Wind team has made more than 20 public presentations throughout the East Hampton community to share information about the South Fork Wind Farm. These presentations have been a great opportunity to gather feedback and answer questions. Thank you to the many residents who have attended!

To keep the conversation going, we are also pleased to announce evening office hours for March and April. Stop by our local office between 5 and 7 p.m. on Monday and Wednesday evenings, beginning March 14. The address is 524 Montauk Highway in Amagansett (opposite the I.G.A.). 

Get the facts on offshore wind and the 15 turbines that will provide East Hampton with clean, cost-effective energy. You can also reach us any time at southfork@dwwind.com.

Sincerely,

JULIA PRINCE and 

JENNIFER GARVEY

Completely Ignored

Bayport

March 2, 2018

Dear David,

In a recent case involving a local hotel/motel/restaurant/bar/tavern created in 1952, I came across representations made by the East Hampton Town zoning commission to convince the inhabitants of East Hampton Town to adopt zoning. These assurances continued until the town board adopted zoning in September 1957. 

In a statement in the Oct. 15, 1953, East Hampton Star titled “The Truth About the Proposed Zoning Ordinance,” the town zoning commission, by the committee members Frank Dayton, Louise Mulford, Richard Corwin, John A. Craft, William J. Cooper, Jay Holmes, and Delos Walker declared: 

“The use of land runs with the land it does not matter who may own it. A building permit costs nothing. 

1. If you own a business in a residential district: You can rebuild it anytime, no matter what may cause its destruction. 

2. It can be extended or enlarged on the existing lot.

3. If you sell the business, the buyer can continue the business. 

You can make all usual repairs and maintenance on your house without a permit. 

Rooming houses and tourist homes are permitted anywhere. You can raise vegetables in the rear yard and sell them in the front yard. Nurseries and greenhouses can be located anywhere.”

In many of my recent litigations, each of these representations has been ignored by the present town government. These solemn government assurances, which served as a method of obtaining popular support for zoning in general in East Hampton Town before September 1957, are now completely ignored in an “ends justifies the means” logic. 

The reality is that the Eisenhower era inhabitants of East Hampton Town were very wary of local government overreaching and interfering with vested rights in real property. 

The Dongan Patent and the vested rights the late Stuart Vorphal advocated meant something significant to that generation. The present day positions of local government attacking these real property rights would be seen by that generation as confiscatory acts in violation of real property ownership rights and in direct disregard for the solemn word of East Hampton Town committee members Dayton, Mulford, Corwin, Craft, Cooper, Holmes, and Walker. 

But then, what is the value of the word of a Dayton, Mulford, Corwin, Craft, Cooper, Holmes, or Walker in today’s East Hampton Town? 

LAWRENCE KELLY 

Big Parade

Southampton

February 23 2018

Dear David,

So, Trump wants a big parade up Pennsylvania Avenue. Aside from costing the American taxpayer $30 million to $40 million, it would serve only for him to stroke his, uh, ego.

Let’s whip something else out. How about the D.C. fire department bring out its shiniest truck and put Trump on board? He can ring the bell and sound the siren. Instant parade! Saves America millions. Maybe he even has a “bigger hose.”

JOHN ZALESKI

Power Corrupts

East Hampton

March 3, 2018

To the Editor:

This morning China announced that it was abolishing term limits so that president Xi could remain in power for as long as he wants. Xi and Putin are two of the worst people on the planet. Autocratic, deranged, power-crazed lunatics who lead two of the most powerful countries in the world. What China did approximates dropping the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It changes the world order by taking off the essential restraints that keep humans from destroying the world. Only Donald Trump heaped praise on Xi’s move to be president for life. (Proving that he is a deranged cretin.)

This sense of order is the essential restraint on the corruption of power. Its guiding principle is that all politicians will essentially become scum because power corrupts and deranges. Democratic (collective) governance in whatever form it takes is a slow-moving cumbersome process because it has too many voices speaking at the same time. Term limits do exacerbate the problem because they change the players and often bring in new players who are less adept at making the system work. Getting things done quickly and efficiently is extremely seductive but the price of autocracy is enormous.

Seventy-five years ago we realized that dropping the bombs was a nuclear catastrophe. It opened the gates for any power with that power to do what the United States did. But the devastation was so extraordinary that creating a system to limit nuclear proliferation was put in place. We’ve avoided another nuclear event but the lunatics in North Korea and the U.S. are threatening the system.

When Michael Bloomberg opted for a third term he fractured the system. It didn’t matter if he was great or horrible; it was about the system not about him.

When Trump refused to show his tax returns and divest from his business interests he did the same thing. Setting a precedent for future officeholders.

The fragility of the world is underlined by the 80 million people who died in wars in the 20th century. It is only some sense of order and collective behavior that keeps the autocrats from acting out. The struggle of the collective conscience against the innate bellicosity of humans is the essential dilemma of the 21st century.

Witness the N.R.A.’s white trash bag of crap, that through lies and deceit holds the country hostage for the sole purpose of selling guns that nobody needs. Multiply it 10 times and we have a deranged ISIS raving about caliphates and killing thousands of people for the sheer pleasure of their madness.

Think of the 48 million Americans on food stamps and the amazing inequality of wealth in the country and understand there is no Democracy without equality.

So, as the movement toward autocratic leadership becomes the norm rather than the exception, the world becomes more and more dangerous. With the wheels going off China, Russia, Venezuela, Iran, North Korea, the Philippines, etc., we are one of the bastions of Democratic governance, and we have become an embarrassment to our founders and the Constitution.

NEIL HAUSIG