Saturday, October 28, 2006

An 80 Year Old Constiuent Sent This Letter to King

I had to post the whole thing....
here's the link to the original

A Letter To Congressman Peter King

October 23, 2006

Hon. Peter T. King
Member of Congress
1003 Park Boulevard
Massapequa Park, New York 11762

Dear Congressman King:

I've received two recorded telephone calls from your campaign in recent days. One was from Ed Koch, who urged me to vote for you ("I love the guy!" he said). Why you thought that such words of endearment from a blowhard like Koch would influence my vote, I have no idea. But one has to assume it reflects your opinion of the intellectual level of the people in your district. Me included, I guess.

The other was your taped voice, informing me I should vote for you because you are "leading the fight in Washington to protect us from Islamic terrorism and illegal immigration."

You added, so that I would understand how patriotic you are and how vigorously you are watching out for my security, that you support profiling for Muslim terrorists at our airports and making English our official language.

You invited me - and presumably all the others who received your unsolicited and intrusive calls - to submit any ideas or suggestions to your office.

O.K., here's one.

Next time, save the money and effort.

Perhaps you could donate any savings, not to your Gulotta-inspired political machine, but to your bosom, Air Force One sharing friend whose occupancy of the White House you have said helps you sleep at night, and suggest that it be earmarked (forgive the expression) to help reduce our national debt or buy body armor.

There is as much chance of this constituent voting for you as there is for you to fly to Louisiana or Baghdad or Mosul or anywhere, with or without flight suit, absent a photographer on hand to take pictures of you "meeting with" the local luminaries, presumably earning your soon-to-be-increased Congressional salary.

Not that you'll miss my vote. Ed Koch's sincerity-dripping blessing will surely sway at least two heretofore uncertain voters to more than make up for it.

And if that doesn't work, certainly you should gain some mileage from the endorsement, if one can call it that, of the mother of a 9/11 victim - she says she's your neighbor - who thinks you did something heroic after that event. What, I'm not sure and she doesn't tell us. But I do know your literature includes a photo of you at Ground Zero after 9/11, holding a cell phone to your ear, looking for all the world as if you were doing something other than avoiding getting in the way of people who were actually working at the site.

Apparently, anything in politics goes, Congressman, no matter how tasteless or exploitative. Shame is for wimps.

I have one or two more ideas, as long as you've asked. But first, a question.

Why is your campaign for reelection suddenly silent on the carnage in Iraq?

Wasn't that one of your signature issues? No recent pictures of you "conferring" with military leaders or hobnobbing with your acquired National Guard buddies on your junkets to Iraq? Wasn't this what you said it was all about - our need to invade a country where Islamic terrorism was being nurtured, where at Qaeda held sway and all those weapons of mass destruction were hidden, the deadly weapons aimed at the United States that somehow clever Hussein was able to make disappear?

What happened? Doesn't Iraq count anymore? Aren't our men and women still fighting there? Or is it that the mounting toll of dead and wounded has, at long last, gotten too embarrassing?

Could it be that you realize - and would just as soon others not realize - that you have no solution to the mess created by the lies and incompetence of your cowboy buddy in the White House and his tough talking compadres, Cheney and Rumsfeld and Rove, that you actually have no clue as to how to extricate our unprotected and targeted military personnel, no alternative to the continued killing and maiming other than more floundering and suffering in what is now a civil war? It's easy to say that we should "stay the course," so long as you're not the one being shot at.

Now that we can't use "Mission Accomplished" anymore, how do you suggest we identify the victory we've been promised? And when do we start celebrating?

Wasn't it three years ago this fall that you reported that "95% of Iraq is stable and secure," that "every school and hospital is open, electricity and power are at higher levels than before the war" and that "tens of thousands of Iraqis have been trained as police and soldiers and are working closely with American forces..."? So why are we still there and our men and women being killed?

I can sympathize, Congressman. If I were you, I'd probably be tempted to cover up this expanding chink in my armor, too. Well, not exactly armor - more like a battle jacket kept in the car for such a purpose, complete with American flag pin, that I'd sport ostentatiously to give people the idea I was a rugged, ready to fight, Oliver North-type guy. Nothing like being tough - or posing as tough to inflate one's ego and impress the voters back home. That's what photo ops are for, right?

When was the last time you saw active duty in a war zone?

Let's not forget Afghanistan where we continue to be bogged down, struggling to cope with the resurgence of the Taliban, the internecine killings and the bumper crops of poppies - or Osama bin Laden, dead or alive or, what's the word now, degraded? Wherever he and his video tape recorder are.

No, it is far easier, Congressman - and a hell of a lot safer - to rail against all the homegrown Muslims who threaten downtown Massapequa Park. Never mind that your facts are wrong. Throw out the idea that Islamic mosques are disguised breeding grounds for terrorists and that "Middle Eastern and South Asian" people need to be profiled at airports and bingo, a few more votes! We can relax. Except, perhaps, for the nagging thought that the real threat is coming from those ready-to-die terrorists throughout the world whose hatred we've managed to inflame, the conversion of our country into a new home front, polarized and perpetually on color-coded alert, the expenditure of billions of dollars on war and more useless arms, the loss of life and the uncertainty of our children's future. Other than those irritations, we should be able to sleep well, too.

Samuel Johnson wrote, " That man is little to be envied whose patriotism would not gain force upon the plain of Marathon..."

Translation: put your money where your militaristic mouth is.

Johnson, as you recall, was also the one who observed that "patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel." But maybe we'd better not go there... right, Congressman?

So... we're safer because we're going after all those homegrown Muslim terrorists who, while they're pretending to pray, may really be plotting to blow up strategic targets on Park Boulevard. (Now maybe it's understandable that you had your sign removed from the building directory (perhaps the only member of Congress in the country to do so) - to throw them off track and keep your photo file safe?)

But wait, as the infomercials urge, there's more.

We have also the threat to our national security from illegal immigrants, don't we? Solution: keep the bomb carrying wetbacks out by building a 700-mile fence to cover a 2,000 mile border. (That figures, doesn't it?) It'll cost only a little over a billion dollars - mere pocket change in Congressional spending. If we keep the soccer playing invaders out and send the 11 million already here illegally back to Mexico (perhaps you'll tell us how), it should cut down on the noise pollution from all those leaf blowers, open up the space in front of the 7-11's and prevent all that money earned here from being sent home to feed the workers' families.

But let's see. Congress appropriated only enough money to construct half the fence, didn't it? And there's no indication as to when or whether more money will be forthcoming to build the rest. Could we be missing something? (Perhaps the failure, also, to seal the porous, twice as long border to the north?)

Never mind that on these two issues alone - our reckless, unilateral, self-serving invasion of Iraq (Pope John Paul called it "an unjust" war) and immigration - your position is contrary to that of your church, as I understand your allegiance. (Want other examples?) That's your business, of course. Like the rest of us, you can pick and choose what you want to believe and ignore the rest. There's no need to be consistent. (Or should we expect a difference between politics and religion?)

And last, let's not fail to note that most potent weapon in our armament against those who would threaten our national security, governmental stability, economic vitality, educational progress and cultural values - the once and for all, courageous designation, preferably by Constitutional amendment (yes, that Constitution, the same one that we thought guaranteed the right of habeas corpus) of... (ready?) English as our official language, a plan you have long espoused. How's that for being bold and creative? We do have a good, solid reason (read wedge issue) to send a hardworking Congressman back to Washington and his free medical care after all, don't we? Chavez and the folks in Farmingville should be thrilled.

Now for a couple of suggestions. (Remember, this was your idea.)

Tomorrow morning, after your good night's sleep (you are still sleeping soundly, aren't you?) stand in front of the bathroom mirror and say to yourself, "Pete, let's face it, posing for pictures and all that has been fun, but I really don't belong in Washington - not as a Congressman, anyway. Nobody ever pointed out that the job called for vision, insight, judgment, ability to work with others and a readiness to serve the interests of all the people, that it was more than acting tough and pandering to the xenophobes."

But then your reflection will complain, "But I don't know anything else to do, I've been on a government payroll too long. I really don't want to be a Congressional page (not under the circumstances and I'm too old, anyway) or a tour guide," and your answer will be, "Not to worry. You can always work one of the corners at Golden Gloves bouts or write more racy potboilers, get them to put Ann Coulter on the cover and hope they sell. Or, since all the landscapers will soon be gone, you can hire yourself out to do yard work. God knows, you're fit enough. If all else fails, you can become a lobbyist, like the others. Why not? You've deserved it.

But just in case you waver in your determination to hang up your gloves, so to speak, let me make another suggestion that might reinforce the wisdom of leaving your day job.

Make a "I was wrong (what was I thinking?)" list, tape it to the front of the bathroom mirror and look at it every morning and evening.

Need help? Sure. How about...

I was wrong not to acknowledge at some point, even when the reality should have been obvious to a six-year old, that the Administration's deceptions and ambitions have grounded us in a senseless war that has already cost us almost 2,800 American lives, and God knows how many physically and emotionally wounded, caused the death of anywhere from (pick a number) 30,000 to 600,000 plus Iraqis, and alienated and isolated us from half the world.

I was wrong to covet and eagerly seize the job of Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee when, now that I have it (as I continually remind everybody), what has happened is that our country is less secure, billions of dollars (why is it always billions?) are being spent haphazardly and politically (check out "high risk" North Dakota and Indiana), while our airports, shipyards, chemical plants, industries, atomic energy installations, bridges and tunnels, transportation systems, schools and public gathering places remain tragically vulnerable to terrorist attack.

I was wrong to buy into the notion that bluster, slogans and sheer force are a "strategy" that can make and keep us secure and that ideas, negotiations and diplomacy are for "cut and run," white flag waving defeatists like Colin Powell and John Warner (with whom at one time I was glad to have my picture taken). Odd how those guys could actually have served in time of war and still feel this way.

I was wrong to be an enthusiastic supporter of an administration that has squandered an inherited surplus, increased our debt enormously, saddled our children and grandchildren with an astronomical deficit and placed us under obligation to unsavory nations that have bought our bonds and created a leverage that could spell economic disaster any time they might choose to pull out.

I was wrong to endorse a misdirected tax "reform" scheme that reduces the burden on the wealthy but leaves the folks in high tax Long Beach and Glen Cove to fend for themselves, wrong to sit by while good jobs escape overseas, to be replaced with Walmart-type jobs, and wrong to oppose an increase in the minimum wage, while quite happy to accept an increase for myself.

I was wrong, morally and scientifically, to oppose federally funding for embryonic stem cell research, wrong to appear to place a higher value on discarded cells than on the human lives that could be saved.

I was wrong not to express my outrage at the torture perpetrated at abu Ghraib and the deprivation of liberty and human rights of those held without trials or even charges at Guantanamo Bay. How I can continue to shut my eyes to these assaults upon our national honor and still maintain we are fighting for American values surprises even me.

I was wrong and am still wrong in my failure to give a high enough priority to curbing the poisoning of our environment, including the air breathed by children and older persons in Hicksville, Farmingdale and Babylon, and by my reluctance to challenge industrial interests by seriously reducing our dependence on fossil fuels. I don't know what happened to my tough, stand up for the little guy image.

I was wrong to back the President's plan (shelved conveniently until after the election) to privatize Social Security, risking the economic protection this most cost effective and successful government plan ever provides for the retired, disabled, widows and dependents, and, again catering to special interests, wrong to oppose competitive bidding for drugs under Medicare Part C, enabling the powerful pharmaceutical companies to make obscene amounts of money, while seniors pay higher drug costs than they should have to.

For that matter, I was and continue to be wrong in my opposition to a single payer health plan for all Americans, a plan that would save money and help meet urgent medical needs and even save lives among the 46,000,000 uninsured Americans, including many in the 3rd Congressional District.

But enough, Congressman.

There is much more to be said, as I suspect you, in your heart, know. But I hesitate to take up more time of whichever assistant or intern it is whose job is to read letters from your constituents and decide which ones to show you. I'm sure he or she realizes, especially at this late hour, that there are higher priorities for office staff.

Like sending out flyers.

But look, why not make it easy for everybody, including yourself? Take a break, Congressman. If the voters don't do it for you, resign. After - what is it, fourteen years? - in a dysfunctional House of Representatives, you're due a rest and the time to pull up crabgrass, like your Seaford neighbors. I'm sure you'll still be invited to Little League games and American Legion meetings and, with any luck, someone will still take your picture.

And your staff members, shouldn't they have the opportunity to find jobs they can be proud of? Think of the enriching experience they've had in Washington and Massapequa Park - loading film, handling calls from Dennis Hastert and watching their boss on Bill O'Reilly. You can send them off with reference letters written on your Congressional letterhead - while the supply and the franking privilege last.

I just hope they have health insurance. And no loved ones in Iraq.

Sincerely,

MH

5 comments:

Fixer said...

I turned the Mejias camp on to this guy. He'd do well in a commercial. I hope they contact him in time. Things are nuts over there.

TimJ said...

That has got to be one of the greatest and most truthful letters I have ever read.

Paco in Glen Cove said...

Kudos to this letter writer for spelling out all of our anger toward King Peter, in one simple letter.
But of course the King won't read such fine prose.
To do so may be "morally, intellectually and politically wrong" in his eyes.

politics64 said...

I have got to cross post this in a diary at MYDD! I am glad team Dave has been notified of it!

Ranger Bob said...

I'm proud to be able to say that the writer of the letter is my dad, and that while we don't always agree on every issue, I admire his commitment and integrity more than I can say.

(And I wish I'd inherited one-eighth of his way with words.)

Fingers crossed here for some big changes in November, in both houses!