Lens of Division
November 13, 2020
To the Editor,
As I read through your letter columns recently I was increasingly disturbed by a certain lining up on “sides” that is beginning to suggest a similar division in our national life, where I find it equally disturbing.
I have lived in East Hampton as my primary residence since the mid-1980s and was “converted” to East Hampton in the mid-1960s when I visited the family of a since-deceased fine friend. I was introduced to beach plum jelly, visited the very local shops on Main Street run mostly by residents of the town, was charmed by Pets Painted with Love and the excellent toy store, and dazzled by the natural beauty of the area. I have always celebrated the village aspect of the town, the histories of the families who have provided so much over generations to this town.
Yes, it changed. Main Street is now mostly corporate, as is most of retail life in our whole country. This area has been a summer habitat for the wealthy since way back into the 19th century, and that aspect has grown by leaps and bounds as our national culture changed as well. One might claim that the wealthy of an earlier era were more “cultured” but that may not be the case, and would it matter? Much remains, much has changed. This is equally true of the areas in which I grew up, first eastern Nebraska, then southern Idaho, with early childhood summers on the lakes of Minnesota.
I have always found voting in East Hampton a particularly fine experience, and so I found it this year. Though the line was much longer at the Windmill Village early voting, yet the staff and the voters were calm and serious about their various purposes.
I feel as I read through your always-engaging letters column (and I consider it a superb civic service) that more and more simple descriptions are being reported through a lens of division. I sincerely hope that as the election becomes fully resolved, which surely it will be, that the currently presumptive winner has spent a political lifetime working, as they say, across the aisle, always able to hear both sides of an issue and to work toward creative compromise. Some now seem to characterize him as quite the opposite of this. Let’s relax and settle down, settle back, and see how things go. The alternative cannot be palatable to any of us, and, like it or not, we are all in this together.
The Spirit Never
(In memoriam Jann Spoerri, 1965-2020)
These are the children, gay and jolly,
acting in their childlike folly
on Washington Place and Cedar Street
in every weather, in cold and heat.
The laughter gave their mothers soul,
lightening darkness on a belly roll.
Angels come again and go.
That is all ye need to know.
Fond is the son of a loving mother,
fond are the sisters, one of the other,
and his father made a point to say
his boy, like he, never went away.
Tibetans never say goodbye
or hello, and they never die.
The Agency’s Ardor
November 13, 2020
To the Editor:
The New York Department of Environmental Conservation has proposed a new, Christmas-to-New-Year-Day deer hunting season for its upstate Southern Zone. The new hunting season would not affect East Hampton; we already have deer hunting during this holiday time. But the proposal is relevant to us. The D.E.C. has a significant impact on our community, and its new proposal reveals an attitude that deserves our attention.
In its regulatory impact statement, the D.E.C. encourages the new hunting season with the following words: “During the Christmas to New Year holiday week families gather, many people are off from work, and students are on school break. This provides time for families to hunt together, share memories and make new ones, and gather venison for the next year. This new opportunity is consistent with the department’s efforts to recruit, retain, and reactivate New York’s hunters.”
Some people in our community will support the D.E.C.’s image of family life. Others, like me, wish families would bond over activities that do not involve killing. But I do not want to debate this issue here. Rather, I simply want to call attention to the statement’s unbridled enthusiasm for hunting.
The D.E.C’s public image is that of an impartial regulatory agency that only follows scientific evidence. I initially shared this view. I was therefore surprised by the way high-ranking D.E.C. officials expressed an unabashed love of hunting. They boasted to audiences about their hunting exploits and wrote about the thrill of a first kill. The D.E.C.’s description of a new holiday hunting season is another illustration of the agency’s ardor for hunting.
The D.E.C. also receives significant funding from hunting, especially from taxes on the sale of hunting equipment. The D.E.C., then, has both an emotional and economic stake in hunting. Because the D.E.C. exerts considerable control over our local wildlife policies, those of us who advocate alternatives to hunting, such as contraception, face a big hurdle.
East Hampton Group for Wildlife
November 14, 2020
A hearty thank-you for bringing back Jack’s column. Sunshine on a rainy day!
ALICE CARY RAGUSA
November 13, 2020
We now have a year-round jet/heliport in our community. The respite from the air, noise, water, and visual pollution of the summer season is gone this year, another sorry result of the pandemic.
It is more than ironic that the airport advocacy group, disguised as the East Hampton Community Alliance, purports to be concerned with our “health and safety.” We know that carbon emissions from aircraft are among the worst factors in the current climate crisis. This is not an “economic” issue; it is one of planetary survival. As for “safety,” there is nothing “safe” about the thousands of out-of-control crisscrossing airport flight patterns, even when the “control tower” is in operation — and it often isn’t.
There have been several crashes in recent years, one of which I witnessed firsthand. What would happen to the “health and safety” of our community if there were another crash in the woodlands, but this time during a relentless summer drought? Wildfire can occur in East Hampton, and one shudders to think of the potential devastation.
When the earnest and wise people worked so hard for so many years to preserve as much of the East End as possible, they were surely not preserving this place for the environmental nightmare that the airport has become.
November 13, 2020
My father once told me the definition of character is “doing the right thing when no one is looking.” I am really offended by what citizen Joe Biden is doing, and I really question his character. Biden is not president-elect but he is out and about acting like he is. The voting is not certified, and it is clear that investigations of potentially corrupt votes are not finished and the current vote tally may change and either President Trump may come on top or Joe Biden will be our next president.
If Biden had any character, he should come out and say something like this: “It appears that I have won the election; however, the votes have not been certified and there are many irregularities being investigated. Until such time, I will not be acting like president-elect until we have a certified vote count”. If he did this, I am sure it would go a long way toward his focus on unity rather than the divisiveness he is now creating. Come on man, do the right thing!
By the way, Manny Vilar said it right last week. Many of us just do not understand where all this hate from the left comes from.
Stand Up for Georgia
November 16, 2020
This was a good week. I decided at the beginning of the week that I would no longer be under Trump’s power. That meant to pay less attention to his antics and not react to his crazies. The powerlessness of four years was gone. How good it feels!
But the fight is not over. We must all focus on winning the two senatorial races in Georgia. I remember when Obama became the president and how jubilant we were. But all too soon, people began to critique him. They complained he was doing nothing. My answer to them was, “What can he do? His hands are being shackled by the Senate and Mitch McConnell.”
As educated, intelligent, and well meaning as Obama was, I believe he could have accomplished so much more for our country if he had been allowed to follow his agenda. Once again, the people in this country were held hostage by the Senate. We cannot let this happen again.
If we don’t win the Senate, Biden will waste valuable time and energy on fighting and all his attempts to heal our country will likely be defeated. I believe that, unencumbered, he can restore the health of our nation and our democracy.
The past election was won in part because so many Americans stood up and rallied to make their voices heard through protests, phone banks, sending postcards or texts, donating money, and volunteering in any way they could. It truly was beautiful to be living in New York and participating in a phone bank to get poll workers and observers for the Wisconsin election.
If the nation stands together, and we work hard, we can win the races in Georgia. It is key to the future of our nation. I am sounding an alarm and asking everyone to stand up for Georgia, democracy, and our country.
November 16, 2020
To the Editor,
The really sad and dangerous things about this whole affair, the voting fraud allegations, is that it has put American against American, like what happened during the American Civil War, where over 600,000 Americans spilled their blood on American soil. God forbid we have another civil war in our time. Let’s settle our differences peacefully according to the Constitution the way our founders had hoped it would be.
Mary Queen of Peace, we need you now as much as our country has ever needed you before. Please pray for us.
May God bless and protect these United States of America.
Get Over It
November 15, 2020
Well, we can all take a good sigh of relief. The “tan-Trumps” are over, mostly, the unsportsmanlike yelling of, “It’s not fair, they stole the votes.” Blah, blah, flipping blah, get over it: He lost. That’s life, unless your mama or daddy taught you that being a sore loser is a good thing. It isn’t, not in a Little League game, a pro ball game, a dance competition, a board game, a divorce, or an election. Move on.
This all didn’t take place in a vacuum. It was too much hate and not enough true leadership for all, as a president should be. People simply had enough. So a collective nationwide intervention happened at the polls on the part of the country that was not in denial or enablers of Trumpism. Over 70 million said, “You’re out of here, like Vladimir.” No pun intended. But well, why not, if it applies? Tyrants R Us-land in America is no more. Like the Miranda Lambert song, “Baggage Claim” goes, “I’ve been dragging around your sensitive ego. A little suitcase like a brick. You got a lotta luggage in your name. Packing it in, come and get it, cause it ain’t my problem now.” Amen and hallelujah, open the windows, air out the bloviation and paranoia. Bring on the decency, integrity, and an actual grown-up presidency. Let freedom ring.
Has Hit Bottom
November 15, 2020
The anatomy of a modern-day crime in a temporary job: This piece may drag on but I think it is worth slogging through. When I discussed it with some friends, the conversation lasted more than three hours.
Feelings toward the Republican Party are hardly personal. It is the flavor of the decade, or last three decades. Under Trump it has descended to its greatest depths and we hope has hit bottom. Its repugnance is not a reflection on the state of the opposition. It stands alone. Proudly and grotesquely.
It dawned on Donald Trump in the winter of 2019 that he had a pretty good chance to get re-elected. He had survived all of his screw-ups and misdeeds with a good deal of guile and luck. Hardly anyone was aware of how he messed up almost everything he tried to do. His base was, thank God, energetically brain-dead and would do anything for him.
Then Covid-19 hit. Reading all the Covid reports he understood the depth of the problem and the looming disaster. China was in lockdown. Europe was beginning to go off the rails. The world being what it is foretold with certainty that the virus would arrive in the U.S. His survival instincts took over, so instead of passing the problem on to the experts in the field he took it on as a personal affront. He would deal with it and easily win the next election.
His first three years in office were marked by an endless procession of tweets and comments about almost everything. Devoid of real substance his policies were sound bites and exclamations of greatness. He avoided the heavy lifting and no one around him had the minimum of skills for administering this massive government. Very little got done but his base was in heaven.
Lazy by inclination, he had no idea about the level of work it would take to try and control the virus. Consequently, he resorted to what worked before. Bullshit, hyperbole, and more bullshit. Viruses don’t have ears and paid no heed to his ramblings. As the crisis worsened he realized that he’d made a huge mistake and would have to find a way to make up for it.
The whole deal with masks, lockdowns, etc. could work to his advantage if he played his cards right. So he played down the virus. Called it names. Told us not to worry, that it was only a bad flu etc., etc. His base, maybe 25 percent of the country, bought it and that would be enough to support his ridiculous narrative.
He also understood that if the virus persisted, mail-in absentee voting would take over the normal in-person poll voting. So he began a campaign to denigrate mail-in voting, despite its widespread use in the country, with accusations of potential fraud, explaining that the electoral process would definitely be compromised by mailing in your vote.
He knew that his base would go to the polls despite the risks of catching the virus because they were convinced that it was a hoax. The key was to find a way to delegitimize mail-in voting (for which the Democrats would advocate). Trump understood that perception and truth are often disparate ideas. So, by constantly parroting the evils of mail-in voting and the potential for real fraud, the electorate would eventually buy into the concept.
The primary problem was that too many people were understanding the serious nature of the Covid-19. The virus was spread and contracted at large gatherings, and 130 million people exposing themselves at the polls was a surefire disaster.
He understood the risk of in-person voting but he believed that his election was worth the potential risk of infecting the entire population.
Understanding that the Democrats were making an enormous push for mail-in voting to counterbalance the virus, he concocted another scenario. To further guarantee the election he replaced the head of the U.S.P.S. with one of his henchmen. The idea was to disable and disrupt the U.S.P.S. and its ability to handle hundreds of millions of mail-in ballots. Simultaneously, he began attacking the credibility of the U.S.P.S. and questioned its ability to competently handle millions of mail-in ballots.
Logically, given that the virus would increase the mail-in ballot load, the U.S.P.S. should have been provided with additional funds and support to prepare for the election. The opposite happened. Services were cut back. Systems were redesigned. Mailboxes disappeared. Seemed like a fire sale before the U.S.P.S. is auctioned off to the lowest bidder.
Assessing the damage to the postal system will take some time to calculate, but it was a small price to pay to win the election.
From another angle, mail-in ballots were an obstacle to voter suppression. Understand that in every election since 1965 the Republican Party has actively pursued a voter suppression regimen that denied between two and five million voters the right to vote. Mailing in ballots would eliminate the suppression formula and risk increasing the number of voters. (See the largest voter turnout in U.S. history.)
With voter suppression mostly off the table, Republicans redirected their efforts to the voting and calculation process. In Pennsylvania, for instance, the Republican Legislature required that counting mail-in ballots starts on Election Day, guaranteeing that the counting would not be completed for several days after Election Day. Permitting Trump to declare victory based on in-person voting.
In Texas drop-off boxes for mail-in votes were cut in half in the most populous Democratic counties, requiring hours of driving to find a drop-off box. Again in Pennsylvania and Nevada Trump supporters demanded entry into the counting areas to look for malfeasance, except that Republican observers were already present in every voting and counting location, as mandated by law. Finally, not a single Republican who was elected congressman or senator questioned Trump’s obscene allegations regarding the voting process, legitimizing his attempts to delegitimize the election, which included their own electoral victories.
This is basically a story of extraordinary scumbaggery. Since 1965 and before, Republicans have never on any occasion demanded that every vote deserves to be counted. They have, instead, worked tirelessly to suppress every vote that they thought would not be in their favor. Since John McCain, not a single Republican has shown an ounce of courage in dealing with the president. That they crawl on their stomachs licking his shoes and remain silent when he disrespects McCain is all that needs to be said to fully describe their character.
The story is now complete. “The election was illegitimate” is now the Republican mantra. A fabrication like all the other fabrications. Invalid, obscene, and perfectly Republican.
So, Biden has won the election. Is there a way back for the Republican Party to reset our political madness? Is there anything worth saving in this cowardly bag of horseshit? Would love to hear about it.