September 16, 2012
To the Editor,
Once again I feel very fortunate to live in a small community like Montauk. I went through a very frightening health experience in which we had to call 911. The police came within two minutes; the officers administered oxygen and were very friendly, reassuring, and professional. The ambulance came minutes later, and, again, the emergency medical technicians could not have been nicer or more helpful! The trip to Southampton Hospital was fast, and the ambulance attendants, while holding my hand, reassured me that things would be okay.
I cannot thank everyone enough for making a frightening experience less traumatic.
I would also like to mention that my experience at Southampton Hospital was very positive. Attendants, nurses, and doctors could not have been more accommodating, nicer, and professional.
Thank you all.
is he loony?
What’s he doing
in a hotel room
in Las Vegas
to his boony?
Packs of Them
September 10, 2012
I summer in Maine, and up north here we have no deer problem. Our gardens don’t even need fences, let alone our entire houses.
The reason? Coyotes — packs of them. They finish off the fawns, and deer are less prevalent. Coyotes also thin out the cat problem, and now and then take a dog or small child.
Small price to pay. We have our gardens. I shall introduce coyotes to Long Island when I return.
September 17, 2012
Your editorial two weeks ago about the need to plan for sea level rise deserves more attention. Those who live inland or extract fossil fuels may deny climate change, but we can’t afford to — as a coastal community the effects here will be severe.
The Local Waterfront Revitalization Program, online on the town Web site, is the coastal component of the comprehensive plan. It lays out a number of initiatives to plan for sea level rise, none being pursued by the Wilkinson administration. They include shoreline monitoring, the flooding and erosion policies, and projects to mitigate storm hazards and other emergencies.
Allowing natural shoreline processes is the best bet for keeping our beaches. We must resist further armoring of the shoreline. Bulkheads, revetments, and even innovative solutions like so-called dune ladders lead to further loss of precious beaches, amply demonstrated in areas where they predominate.
This is a tough balance, preserving public beaches vs. private property, and means that over time some land and houses may be lost to the sea. We need consistent commitment to the L.W.R.P. policy. That’s better than an ad hoc decision every time a distressed property owner appeals to the zoning board for a “hard” structure.
To better prepare for hurricanes and northeasters we need a local hazard-mitigation plan rather than the generic county plan the town signed onto. Such a plan would, for instance, enable off-the-shelf responses to close storm-cut breaches at vulnerable spots like Napeague, downtown Montauk, and Georgica Pond with pre-identified stockpiles of sand. Little Pike’s Inlet, cut through Dune Road in the 1991 Halloween storm, showed that breaches not closed quickly can widen and become vastly more expensive to fix. No one wants Montauk to be an island again except, maybe, some Montaukers.
Larry Penny began a shoreline monitoring program in the Natural Resources Department, which should be updated at least annually, so we can actually measure sea level and erosion and effects of storms. Without data we’re whistling in the dark. Our descendants will not appreciate our inattention. As you point out, these will be critical problems for the next generation.
These are but a few salient examples of what needs to be done now to manage and preserve our coast for the future. Coastal planning requires sustained attention from government and citizens alike. It costs money, well spent if it decreases future losses.
Bringing The Star’s light to shine on these issues increases public awareness and is a vital public service. Thank you for your words.
September 16, 2012
Town of East Hampton for Sale!
Great Opportunity to Become a Friend of Bill!
1. East Hampton Airport
2. East Hampton septic-waste facility
3. East Hampton commercial fishing docks
4. East Hampton tennis courts — sold
5. East Hampton indoor skating rink — sold
6. Ronjo motel alleyway — sold
7. East Hampton nature preserves naming rights
8. East Hampton Information Technology Department
9. Special sale! Inexpensive single-family houses, enabling greedy landlords to earn large tax-free incomes. With the tacit approval of our town supervisor, slumlords can crowd as many residents as possible into these houses despite unhealthy and dangerous living conditions.
Hurry, call Supervisor Bill for details. These offerings expire November 2013!
None of this passes the “smell test.”
Holding my nose,
FRED J. WEINBERG
Who Should Pay?
September 15, 2012
Now that the Federal Aviation Administration’s position on the grant assurances, or contracts, it has with the Town of East Hampton regarding our airport has been clarified by the F.A.A. itself, perhaps it is time to move the airport discussion forward to the real issue: Who should pay for the airport and why.
We know the following as fact: If we take F.A.A. money for our airport the F.A.A. calls the shots. If we let grant assurances expire just a bit more than two years from now then the Town of East Hampton, as proprietor, can impose reasonable measures to alleviate the horrendous year-over-year increase in aircraft noise.
If it were not for the issue of how to pay for and maintain our airport, the choice for local control would be simple. Why would any of us want to rely on a large, faceless government beauracracy that continues to show complete and total indifference to our noise problem? Why would we not explore other funding options first before simply signing away the right to quiet enjoyment of our homes?
At the present time only two funding options have been considered. Proponents of F.A.A. funding for the airport would have us believe that if the F.A.A. does not support the airport then that responsibility will fall solely on the shoulders of East Hampton town taxpayers.
But there are other ways. Let’s start by insisting that our town leaders open the books at the airport. Can it be self-sustaining? If not, why not? Perhaps day-to-day operations can be covered by airport profits.
But what of bigger-ticket items like runway repair? While bonding is always an option, has anybody considered a special airport tax district not unlike the one just proposed for oceanfront homeowners? Like oceanfront owners, most airport users have the means to pay for something important to them but perhaps less important to the taxpayers at large.
Or how about something a bit easier and more creative? Perhaps lawyers and the aviation association honchos, Tom Twomey and John Shea, could take a lesson from their law partner Steve Latham who, with other civic-minded individuals, brought our community together in a sustained and successful fundraising effort that resulted in the construction of our very popular RECenter. While Steve (and others) brought the community together, it seems that by statements and actions of the aviation association, Mr. Twomey and Mr. Shea delight in dividing it.
There is no question that quite a few airport users have the ability to help fund the airport.
Is there a way to make donations to an airport maintenance fund tax deductible?
Given the fact that the F.A.A. is in no rush to help us with our noise problem, there should be no reason to rush into contract renewals with them at least until all other funding avenues have been explored. The town board should push all F.A.A. contracts aside until they’ve explored all potential funding options and heard from the public on the matter.
September 17, 2012
There is a reason why Peter Kirsch is considered the rainmaker at his firm, Kaplan, Kirsch, Rockwell. Peter Kirsch is also the attorney at Naples Airport where noise-abatement policies under grant assurances have set back that municipality more than $6.6 million. After spending all that money, there are still no solutions, no end in sight for the noise.
Noise abatement is a failed policy all around this country. East Hampton Airport is not unique. Santa Monica Airport is the poster child for failed noise-abatement policies. With the strictest noise-abatement regulations and highest fines in the country, that city is considering closing the airport in 2015.
It is silly for the Town of East Hampton to spend millions of dollars to come to the same conclusion several years from now. The legal bill of $135,000, which caught the town board by surprise, will seem like a drop in the bucket if they don’t wake up. Especially if they take Federal Aviation Administration money.
Thank you for the continuous coverage on the torturous noise problems at the airport. Joanne Pilgrim is doing a fantastic job reporting on the town board proceedings.
It’s like silly season at Town Hall. It appears like an act from “The Three Stooges,” or rather, the monkeys: Hear No Evil, See No Evil, and Do No Evil. Sure, it is illegal for one board member to change helicopter routes. This is a town-wide problem that affects many of its citizens. It is a decision that requires public review. The airport manager, who designed the three helicopter routes, also had no authority to set them in place.
When I questioned Councilman Dominick Stanzione about the authority of the airport manager, he stated, “Of course he doesn’t have the authority, but he did it anyway.” Then he laughed at me.
This is no laughing matter when our right for peaceful enjoyment of our property is usurped.
If it wasn’t so silly, it would be crazy.
September 13, 2012
Last week, at an East Hampton Town Board meeting, our town supervisor lamented about preparing the 2013 budget because of the 2-percent cap. Amidst the anguish about the budget, at that same meeting there was a bill to pay for Peter Kirsch, the town’s airport and aviation attorney. This bill, for $118,441, was questioned by Councilwoman Sylvia Overby and Councilman Peter Van Scoyoc.
Supervisor Wilkinson questioned why it has taken nine months to be paid. In truth, that’s not the point! The question should be what is the breakdown of the charges to the town by the attorney, and the cost of the hours paid by the taxpayers. Included in this bill is a trip to Washington by Councilman Dominick Stanzione, a trip that was never authorized by the board.
At the Montauk Town Board meeting on the following Tuesday, Councilman Stanzione produced a bill for $135,000 for this same attorney, Peter Kirsch, claiming that an additional bill had just come in. Mr. Stanzione waited until the very end of the meeting to produce this bill and to ask the other councilmembers if they had a problem with its payment. And they did!
The airport tower costs about $500,000, and now we are paying the aviation attorney another $135,000. One percent of East Hampton taxpayers use the airport. On the other hand, 100 percent of East Hampton taxpayers have or will have use of the scavenger waste plant for emptying their cesspools. Supervisor Wilkinson refuses to put any money toward the plant in his budget for 2013. What is wrong with this picture?
Maybe we can trade the control tower and the attorney bills for the cleaning and fixing of the scavenger waste plant. After all, the plant will be used by all the residents of the town — year round.
We Pay Twice
September 14, 2012
To the Editor,
Bill Wilkinson is correct in closing the scavenger plant. The cesspool companies do not cover the cost to operate the plant. We, the taxpayers, are subsidizing them by the town making up the difference. When we have a pump-out the company charges us the fee they have to pay. We pay twice.
We should not be subsidizing private companies. Close it now.
September 14, 2012
While strolling in green pastures on the grounds of the East Hampton High School, I came upon two custodial workers staring at the back of a bench.
“Obama is a tud” (sic) was the original sprayed-on message. “Obama” had been crossed out. The bench now read “Glove is a tud.”
The custodial workers and I shared the following observations:
1. “Glove” is a synonym for “Mitt,” as in, “Mitt is a tud.”
2. It is a great thing that education is so widely available.
2a. It doesn’t always work.
All good things,
Been a Supporter
September 16, 2012
Over 11 years ago two senators, Orrin Hatch, who is a conservative Republican, and Richard Durbin, a liberal Democrat, championed the Development, Relief, and Education of Alien Minors, or Dream Act. This law, if enacted, would give over 1.5 million undocumented youths who qualify the right to continue their education without the nightmare of sudden deportation.
Over the next decade, the House and Senate repeatedly approved this legislation. However, the use of an undemocratic 60-vote Senate cloture rule has repeatedly blocked the advance of this first step in immigration reform.
In 2011, frustrated by a paralyzed Congress, President Obama established a “we can’t wait” initiative, which allowed him to put his policies in place by executive order. Using this initiative this July, President Obama put the Dream Act in place for the next two years. Thousands of youths, including many in our community, are in the process of enrollment.
Our congressman, Tim Bishop, has been a supporter of this legislation and is presently encouraging our Latino youth to participate. In sharp contrast, his opponent, Randy Altschuler, has strongly voiced his disapproval.
Mitt Romney has repeatedly stated that if the Dream Act were to be put on his desk as president, he would immediately veto it. Since an executive order is not a law, it is critical to note that in the event that he is elected this policy would be canceled and this simple, first movement toward the solution to the immigration dilemma, long championed by President George W. Bush, would be lamentably reversed.
Cloud of Ethics
September 15, 2012
This year we have a real choice for who we elect to represent us in Washington in Congress. The question is do we want a person who has a cloud of ethics charges around him or do we want a new face?
Tim Bishop, our congressman for the First Congressional District, has been asked by The New York Post, Newsday, and The New York Daily News to have a congressional probe, as well as Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics, a well-respected Washington-based watchdog group, about his recent involvement in getting a constituent permits to hold fireworks while accepting a contribution to his political campaign from the constituent. Yes, Mr. Bishop has said he would be willing to have a congressional ethics probe, but he has not said when. As voters we need to know now, not after the election, if Tim Bishop has violated election law.
Recent editorials in newspapers have not endorsed Tim Bishop’s behavior. I agree with them and know that it is time to put a new face in Washington. Randy Altschuler does not have a cloud of impropriety surrounding him. On Nov. 6, vote for Randy Altschuler, a new face, new blood, and most of all, honest!
MARY ELLA MOELLER
September 17, 2012
Dear Mr. Rattray,
The Middle East is on fire. A beloved United States ambassador is defiled and murdered by a mob as President Obama parties with Beyonce and Jay-Z and amasses 1-percenter campaign contributions while rebuffing Prime Minister Netanyahu’s request to meet with him. Mr. Obama had more important things to do than support Israel and Mr. Netanyahu, but why should any of us be surprised?
At the Democratic National Convention, Mr. Obama and Tim Bishop’s party refused to acknowledge God and Jerusalem in the party platform, even as references to both had been included in previous platforms. When embarrassed D.N.C. officials tried to amend the platform by a so-called democratic vote, their vote lost three times, and the party officials were forced to impose God and Jerusalem on the Democratic Party.
While some Democrats rightly support Israel, our only and steadfast ally in the Middle East, and while some Democrats support the Judeo-Christian values of Washington, Jefferson, and all of our forefathers, it is obvious the Democratic Party does not.
As Tim Bishop is a member of this party, where does he stand? He has been silent on his friends’ booing of God and Jerusalem at the convention. Has he questioned the leading-from-behind, dangerously muddled Middle East policy of Mr. Obama that has brought Israel and the entire world to the brink?
Where is Tim Bishop? He is silent and AWOL, as he has been during his congressional tenure. There is no legislation that bears his name. Our fishing and farming industries are in peril. So where is he? Too busy working the phones and asking for campaign contributions, one supposes.
Our country and county are at a tipping point. Change — real, competent, roll-up-your-sleeves change — is desperately needed now! Mr. Bishop and Mr. Obama must go.
Voters have a real choice this election: stay the course of incompetence and disaster, or in the First Congressional District, vote for the smart, hardworking and self-made success, Randy Altschuler.
September 16, 2012
To the Editor:
We know that Tim Bishop has voted for every wild spending scheme that Barack Obama has proposed. He voted for the Troubled Asset Relief Program. He voted for the multitrillion-dollar stimulus bills that in reality were a gigantic political slush fund for the Obama re-election effort. He supported Obamacare, even though he knew it takes over $700 billion out of Medicare, and on and on.
But what about Mr. Bishop’s taking on the innumerable executive orders and mandates issued by Mr. Obama and his dozen of czars? Does he support the Health and Human Services mandate that forces churches to provide abortion and contraception materials that violate their most deeply held beliefs? Does he support Mr. Obama’s executive order eliminating the work requirement from the welfare-reform bill, or the one ordering border officials not to enforce the immigration laws?
Mr. Obama is supposed to present these moves to Congress as bills to be debated and voted on, but he doesn’t. He ignores constitutional processes and issues dictates instead. So please tell us, Mr. Bishop, do you support these radical and unprecedented usurpations of power? Are you upset that Congress has been left out of the process, behavior that is technically an impeachable offense, or should we take your silence to mean that you approve of these dictatorial actions?
We do know that your opponent, Randy Altschuler, is opposed to these power grabs and to the insane levels of spending and debt resulting from them. And we know that he has a track record of success in the real world, where budgets have to be met and promises kept. That, in brief, is why I’m voting for Mr. Altschuler and why I urge my fellow citizens to do the same.
Forgot to Give
September 4, 2012
So, now the truth is coming out about Congressman Tim Bishop! It sure looks like he only helps those who donate to his re-election campaign. If you don’t pay, you don’t play. According to the newspapers, Mr. Bishop did a favor for some wealthy person to help him get a fireworks permit, and then Tim’s daughter appears to have shaken the guy down for a $10,000 donation. No wonder Tim hasn’t been helping us out here in Montauk! We forgot to give him money. Apparently, this is how you get things done with the congressman.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve had enough of this type of behavior. It is time we made a change and the right man now is Randy Altschuler. Randy will be well-received in Congress, as he will be part of the majority and he will have a place at the table. Being a fresh face, he’ll want to impress all of us with what he can do — so let’s give him a chance. It sure beats the same-old-same-old we can expect from Mr. Bishop, who will now be busy trying to stay one step in front of the sheriff. Clearly, Tim will not be thinking about us.
Randy is endorsed by three major parties, and your readers can vote for him on Nov. 6 on any of these lines: Republican, Conservative, or Independence Party.
God bless America!
September 17, 2012
Our congressman, Nepotism Tim Bishop, is still playing rope-a-dope with the voters, and so the public can’t get a chance to ask him some serious questions.
I would like to know what he thinks of a statement of Jim Harrison of Oklahoma, who was a Democratic convention delegate. “I suppose the Republicans made too big of a fuss out of the platform,” John Harrison, a Democrat from Warr Acres, said. “It is a shame that the party caved on such a minor issue. I can’t think of anyone who really cares if God is mentioned or what the capital of Israel is. We need jobs and to get out of debt and [Barack] Obama is the man to get it done.” I guess Warr Acres’ own Jim Harrison thought the booers were right.
I would like Nepotism Tim to tell me if he agrees with the man from Oklahoma. I think he should express outrage.
Back in 2010, Vice President Biden said we would be adding 500,000 jobs a month. I would like to ask Nepotism Tim what happened, why only 96,000 new jobs in July?
On Feb. 23, 2009, Mr. Obama promised to cut the deficit in half by the end of his first term in office. Nepotism Tim can refresh his memory by watching the YouTube video of that speech. I would like to know what Nepotism Tim did to hold the president accountable for that promise.
If Nepotism Tim won’t or cannot answer those questions, then, instead of loud boos, he should be voted out of office.
September 17, 2012
I would like to let everyone know we had a most successful yard sale this weekend. Joan Lesser was an absolute dynamite organizer, she organized everything from P.R. to posters, to arranging deliveries, to organizing personnel, to selling, to displaying items — and she had a lot of great help. A terrific effort by all!
There was lots of enthusiasm, lots of hard work, and as Joan said, little angels just appeared. If she needed a truck to pick up items, someone volunteered their truck and their time. If she needed absentee ballot applications, someone delivered the applications. If she needed color fliers, she put out the word and they appeared.
Everyone worked so hard and we had a great yard sale — the biggest and best yard sale I have ever seen. It was a cross between a country fair and a yard sale with lots of happy people working it and happy neighbors buying.
Thank you, Joan, and thank you, neighbors, for your support. Both campaigns will be happy because of our efforts. It was so worthwhile! And remember, if you are voting absentee you can pick up absentee-voting applications at your local library.
Heart and Soul
September 17, 2012
About a month ago, Joan Lesser went before the Democratic committee of East Hampton telling it about her idea to launch a second giant yard sale for President Obama, as she did in ’08. She enlisted aid from the committee, and the word was spread. Donations began to arrive, filling the Lessers’ basement and garage. Volunteers spent time pricing the merchandise, and publicity spread the word.
On the day of the sale, more volunteers showed up to empty the storage areas and place the items attractively around the Lessers’ U-shaped driveway. The baked goods table was set up at the entranceway offering a variety of tasty goodies. And then the crowds came, and came, and came. The weary workers were treated to coffee and bagels in the Lesser home while the money poured in.
By the end of the day, it was decided that we all had enough energy and merchandise to do it again on Sunday, and so we did.
The cumulative efforts of many, many people who gave generously of their time, goods, and energy resulted in $10,000 for the Obama and Bishop campaigns. Now, that may not seem like a great deal of money, and many Republicans here are probably writing checks of that size without blinking an eye, but what was accomplished last weekend through the leadership and vision of Joan Lesser and her husband, Dick, was the heart and soul of this campaign. Many 99 percenters put their shoulders to the wheel and proved what we can do together.
PHYLLIS I. MALLAH
Lacked the Qualities
September 16, 2012
To the Editor,
For some time now President Obama has been telling the people of this country that we are headed down the road of recovery and that we are on the right path. Unfortunately, Ben Bernanke, the chairman of the Federal Reserve, does not share the president’s overly optimistic appraisal of the situation. In fact, Mr. Bernanke announced that his agency will begin buying more debt, $40 billion a month for however long it takes, in order to stimulate the economy.
This will mark the third try by the Federal Reserve at what they call quantitative easing and a hope that the third time is the charm. The idea is that by buying up debt and providing cash to banks they will begin to lend and this lending will spur growth and therefore jobs and therefore prod up Barack Obama’s faltering economy. This also represents more of that “trickle down fairy dust” the president mocked not so long ago.
Of course this money does not exist and once again the printing presses will be working overtime in order to create this new money. It will also add to the government’s already exploding debt, the same one Barack Obama promised to cut in half just four years ago. One has to wonder if the president has put in a call to the Fed chairman to explain how this will not work, or more likely Mr. Obama is hoping, praying, begging that something, anything, works.
This marks yet another example of the complete and utter collapse of this presidency and a long list of empty and broken promises. Barack Obama’s domestic policies have failed, his economic policies have failed, and sadly we now are witness to the collapse of his foreign policy — a trifecta of failure. It is unfortunate that the unrealistic expectations of the current administration have put the lives of the men and women in our diplomatic corps and our military in such jeopardy.
It is also a challenge to some of the blind support Barack Obama gave to various groups during the Arab Spring, the warning that some of these groups were affiliated with Al Qaeda and had other radical ties. Sadly this rush to support these groups and the rush to abandon Afghanistan have taken the lives of brave men, lives that did not have to be lost. Hillary Clinton was right in 2008: Barack Obama lacked the qualities a commander-in-chief needed to receive that 3 a.m. phone call when a crisis arises; you need only to read the headlines to know that.
MICHAEL D. BOUKER
A Great Investment
September 17, 2012
The casino mogul Sheldon Adelson has vowed to spend as much as $100 million to help determine the 2012 election. If you think the well-off pay too much tax already, Mr. Adelson’s backing of Republican candidates may not just make sense for the billionaire — but can you believe he’s selflessly making a great investment too?
If the party of the well-off does win, their investment is a nearly guaranteed jackpot. Their investment is already making a lot of noise here too, with radio and TV accusations against our congressman flying faster and higher than a pig’s ears.
Mr. Adelson has already contributed $36 million to various Republican Super PACs. For me, that’s a lot of inspirational money. But it is far less than the windfall Mr. Adelson could reap from Mitt Romney’s tax cuts (much supported by Randy Altschuler) if Republicans win this election.
Over the course of a four-year presidential administration, Mr. Adelson stands to receive a potential tax cut from the Romney tax agenda of more than $2 billion on his $100 million investment estimated from already-disclosed public information from his businesses’ required filings.
Mr. Altschuler, among other rich Republicans, stands to profit very handsomely too. Mr. Adelson could turn that investment into a $2 billion tax cut if Mr. Romney is elected, because Mr. Romney’s tax plan would benefit Mr. Adelson, as well as Mr. Altschuler, among the handful of other millionaires and billionaires.
• Cut top tax rates, saving Mr. Adelson approximately $1.5 million on his annual compensation as chief executive of his casino company.
• Maintain the special low rates on dividends, potentially saving Mr. Adelson nearly $120 million on a single year’s worth of dividends, more than enough to recoup his political donations.
• Maintain the special low rates on capital gains, allowing Mr. Adelson to make back his political donations in capital gains tax cuts just by selling a fraction of his stock.
• Provide a tax windfall of an estimated $1.2 billion to Mr. Adelson’s company, Las Vegas Sands Corporation, on untaxed profits from its Asian casinos, as well as a tax exemption for future overseas profits. Mr. Adelson’s casinos already enjoy a special foreign tax exemption from the Chinese administrative region of Macau, and Mr. Romney would make those foreign profits exempt from U.S. taxes as well. He has said several times in this campaign he paid the legal amount owed, and Americans wouldn’t want a person as president who paid more than he owed. He knows true Americans.
• Eliminate the estate tax, potentially providing a staggering $8.9 billion windfall to Mr. Adelson’s heirs. With this morally gruesome redistribution of wealth, Randy Atschuler’s lovely family should stand to gain a tidy sum too, to add even more success to his grand person.
I agree with Randy, who likes to repeat that Republican ejaculation, a short prayer, “We should be celebrating success, not taxing it.” You would think that it might be obvious for voters to personally celebrate Mitt and Randy for making such large fortunes, even if from profits made from lost jobs, lost homes, lost families, not to mention lost self-worth and dignity. It only stands to reason these exceptionally rich should not be taxed like we in the middle class, so that they might remain truly exceptional Americans of very high worth, inspiring us all to work a little harder.
September 16 2012
To the Editor,
Sometimes in the world of politics something happens which requires a bare minimum of commentary and a proper level of quiet reflection. The killing of our ambassador to Libya is one of those situations. Recognizing the gravity and sadness of this tragedy was more than sufficient. But Mitt Romney found a way to vulgarize and politicize the story and put his big foot in his big mouth.
What Mr. Romney needs to learn about the Middle East is staggering. When we say “Muslim or Arab world,” we generalize to simplify for the mass of Americans who know nothing of these faraway places. But we know that each country is different. Language, culture, politics, and religion all have substantial variables; the spectrum they cover is substantial. Some exist for more than 4,000 years; others are barely a century old. Believing for a second that there is a homogeneity to this region is borderline cretinism.
America’s situation is even more complicated: Indentured to oil, we abandoned our essential principles and beliefs, supported every dictator because they provided stability and a steady flow of oil, repudiated democracy (see Iran 1954) when it threatened our interests, sold arms to dictators — which allowed them to suppress democratic uprisings. Our good friends and allies were some of the most hideous leaders in the world.
Enter the Arab Spring, for lack of a better phrase: mass demonstrations for democracy and real political change. We had a choice to embrace this revolution or reinforce our old buddies. We judiciously chose to go on the side of democracy and assumed that these new democracies would transform themselves as easily and quickly as we did in 1781. (Which of course wasn’t the case.) But that never happens without strong institutions and stable economic growth, and nowhere in this region do these things exist.
So Mr. Romney tells us that he would handle things differently than the president. He crowed while President Obama expressed grief and tried to figure out what exactly happened. He babbled when there was no right thing to say. He interjected himself where he wasn’t needed. But none of this is a big deal except that Mr. Romney reinforced the belief that he has no idea about the rest of the world, little understanding of democratic movements, and the timelines associated with political change.
In the Republican primary debates Mr. Romney eschewed every principle and position that had been associated with him. It was a bizarre performance that questioned his integrity and the absence of core principles. Now we question his intellect and have to wonder if he really is the boob he appears to be. We lived through it with Bush and are still suffering the results. Are we that dumb that we’d go down that ugly path again?
September 16, 2012
My fears were that the “straw man” image of the president that the righties worked to create, as representing Barack Obama almost from the inception of his presidency, combined with their vicious personal attacks and the demeaning “he is not one of us” campaign, added to the money of their deep-pocket supporters, would work to deprive him of a second term.
I underestimated the voters of the country. They do know the real Barack Obama, and President Obama has surged into the lead in the race where he rightfully belongs. Not by a large margin and victory is by no means certain, but as that tower of intellectual word power, Laura Ingraham, has put it, “If we can’t beat Obama with all of the weakness of his presidency, we should pack it in.” Well, I certainly hope they wind up packing it in, for their lies will catch up, their distortions will be laughed at, their denying the president the dignity of his office, and the fraudulent statements and schemes they come up with, even to the detriment of their own country, their sinking so low as to try to split the United States from Israel, and insults to China will do them in.
They are a disgrace and history will mark them as such.
RICHARD P. HIGER
September 15 2012
To the Editor:
For any reader who followed my exchange in these pages with Richard Higer, I wish to respond to his latest letter (Aug. 30 Star) and to say this is my last contribution.
It is not useful to engage Mr. Higer in an exchange of ideas. He consistently favors misrepresentation, ad hominem arguments, and innuendo over facts and logic. My recent letter to The Star as part of this exchange may have set a record for length. Why? Because Mr. Higer’s mere assertions, guilt-by-association, and ad hominem attacks require far fewer words than responding to them with even the outline of a genuine argument.
Two letters ago Mr. Higer stated that I had attended the fund-raiser given by David Koch at his Southampton house for candidate Mitt Romney. Also with typical innuendo he suggested that my disapproval of the demonstrators who abused Mr. Koch’s guests (e.g., with signs saying “Koch whores”) may have een motivated by a financial relationship with Mr. Koch. I replied that I never said I attended, had never met Mr. Koch, and in my letter had used only information prominently reported in The Star.
Was Mr. Higer then simply wrong? It seems not. In his most recent letter he says it is “strange” that I wrote as though I had attended and that now I have “confessed” (observe the constant innuendo at work?) that I didn’t attend. I never wrote as though I had attended; just read the letter in question. I was not “confessing “ I was pointing out Mr. Higer’s misstatement in saying that I had attended and his innuendo that I might be motivated by a financial relationship with Mr. Koch.
Later in his most recent letter he writes “let it be known” that I helped to found the Atlas Society — a Washington-based nonprofit organization for education research and advocacy based on the ideas of the philosopher Ayn Rand — and comments on my “failure to mention” this connection in my letters. On this basis he implies that my defense of Mr. Koch is now explained. This is an ad hominem argument. The ideas I stated in my letters and the arguments that I made for them are not refuted or indicted by my association with the Atlas Society or the philosophy of Ayn Rand. Intellectual honesty requires that my ideas and arguments be accepted or rejected on their merits. But Mr. Higer prefers to say that the ideas of Ayn Rand are “discredited” and “offbeat” (he merely asserts this as usual: discredited by whom? Which ideas? Based on what arguments?). He lists only three “ideas” of Ayn Rand including “atheism.” Is this “discredited” and “offbeat?”
And by the way, why was I required in my letters to state that I was a trustee of the Atlas Society? Mr. Higer implies that I was evasive but he did not state his associations or intellectual antecedents in his letters. Nor does he note that in my first letter I urged readers to look up an article I wrote; had they done so they would see it was published by the Atlas Society. In my second letter I urged readers to refer to a book by David Kelley, who founded the Atlas Society and was its president for two decades. Does this suggest an attempt on my part to conceal my association with the Atlas Society?
Mr. Higer is so intellectually sloppy, reaching for any available means of attack, exaggeration, ad hominen arguments, innuendo, that it is not very useful to engage him in discussion. In the very first paragraph of his recent letter he says I was “elevating David Koch (and his brother Charles) to the level of sainthood.”
What is the point of this kind of statement? Why not say, just for example, that Mr. Donway defended the political motivations of David Koch, praised his philanthropy in the New York area, and even mentioned his education at Princeton University? Because Mr. Higer doesn’t tell the reader facts; he prefers meaningless exaggeration. And why repeat that I defended Charles Koch when I never mentioned him in my comments on David Koch?
And so it goes. Mr. Higer’s most recent letter makes many statements on politics and others matters. I dealt with these in earlier letters. With no basis he mentions Todd Akin’s remarks about rape and Paul Ryan’s stand on abortion so that he can say he has “no idea” where I stand on these, but “can guess.” In looking up my Atlas Society association Mr. Higer might have gone further and seen my comments on the Atlas Society Web site attacking Mr. Ryan’s position on abortion and reminding readers that one of the “discredited” ideas of Ayn Rand was that a political candidate who failed to recognize a woman’s right to her own body could not be a defender of human rights — the entire basis of her political philosophy. That is why she opposed Ronald Reagan and despised William F. Buckley Jr.
But Mr. Higer is not into dealing with ideas on their merits; he is into sweeping dismissals without argument (Ayn Rand’s philosophy is “mocked”), mere insults (my comparison of the insolvency of Greece’s government with the direction of our own country is “hooey”), and misstatement (that I merely “resent” Mr. Higer’s guilt-by-association tactics in seeming to link Sheldon Adelson, who is under federal investigation, with Mr. Koch, who is not).
For any reader who followed it, the useful thing about this exchange of letters (now ended by me) may be insight into the poverty of facts and logic and the increasing desperation of those who have failed to make the case for a statist America and who had hoped that advocacy of laissez-faire capitalism would simply go away. But the latter continues to gain adherents, especially among the young and intellectually independent who determine a country’s future.