Returning The Political Favor
In his article "Deconstructing Kerry," Mirsky relied on various published news accounts of Kerry's record to paint a picture of a self-interested, ambitious politician whose efforts to position himself as a future leader of this country stretch back to his college days and to his period of military service. That Kerry is ambitious and self-dealing is not, in itself, a surprise or even reason to vote against him. Most politicians who get as far as he has have such traits (though Kerry does seem to have a particularly large share of them, given his tendency to trim his sails to the prevailing political winds at every opportunity). So why does Mirsky bother to bring these issues up and does he deserve the kind of angry censure offered by Plutzer and Silverman?
We have to remember how outspoken and aggressive Kerry, himself, has been in his attacks on President Bush and how quick he is to boast of his wartime experience and to use this as a shield whenever Bush or his people address legitimate issues like Kerry's voting record on defense and intelligence questions. Kerry declares such criticisms to be out of bounds and claims they represent an attack on his patriotism which should stand unquestioned because of his heroic and noble war record. He also makes a point, along with his various Democratic proxies, of demeaning Bush as a "liar" at every opportunity, and as a man who did not, himself, have a distinguished war record during the Vietnam conflict. So Kerry's war record and subsequent history really are issues aren't they? Kerry put them on the table himself.
Mirsky did not deny Kerry's military service in his column. He merely noted some things about it that helped put it into perspective. Kerry may have won some medals, Mirsky tells us, but he served for an unsually brief period and seems to have gone out of his way to put some notches on his belt while there, as though he was thinking of how this would all look, years later, when he was running for office. In fact, according to reports surfacing now from Kerry's own former commanding officer, the current junior Senator from Massachusetts may actually have politicked, even back then, to get at least one of those medals he's so proud of and is always telling us about. Mirsky, in his article, noted that there was a rule in that period enabling combatants to cut short their tour of duty if they had three or more documented serious wounds so the first medal Kerry got, for a few "scratches" according to the man who was then his superior officer, counted towards allowing him to get out of the fighting early. His commander now says he didn't want to approve a purple heart for such a minor "wound" but, he claims, Kerry argued and pressed so hard that he finally gave in. That's certainly relevant if we are to fully understand this period of Kerry's history.
In the end, we'll all vote based on the positions the candidates espouse. But in order to make our choices, it's legitimate to explore those positions. But Kerry wants to use his past military history as a shield to prevent exploration of his votes on defense and intelligence issues during his service as a U.S. Senator. If so, then it's perfectly appropriate for Mirsky and others to question the quality of that service. And if Kerry wants to use his military history to highlight differences in character between himself and the president, it's also appropriate to look closely at that. Remember, it was Kerry and the Democrats who made an issue out of Bush's national guard service, alleging the president was AWOL when, in fact, this turned out to be false since a number of former guardsmen came forward to testify that they saw the president on duty and payroll records for that period show he was paid for showing up at the mandatory guard meetings. Democrats don't have to accept this, of course, and most likely they won't. But then why should the rest of us be expected to take Kerry's service at face value when his own commanding officer testifies that it wasn't what it appeared to be and when it fits into an historical pattern showing Kerry to be something of a self-serving opportunist?
I would just note, in ending, that this business of questioning the honesty and reliability of the candidate was not begun by Republicans but by the Democrats who have been badmouthing Bush at every opportunity since he got into office. They've called him names and consistently tried to call his personal history into question. So why should Senator Kerry and his supporters expect people not to return the favor?
Review Your E-Z Pass Bills!
I was recently reviewing my E-Z Pass charges since they increased my replenishment amount. I noticed that they charged me $3.17 on two different dates over the Marine Parkway Bridge. I called E-Z Pass and spoke with Kayon and was told that if I am following too closely to someone or if someone is following to closely to me, I would be charged at their truck rate. Kayon states that this is not an E-Z- Pass defect. I disagree since you cannot control how closely the vehicle behind you is following. I asked Kayon if they could review my past account since this may have been happening and that is why my account replenishment has been increased. E-Z Pass will not go back and correct mistakes unless you bring it to their attention. I'm guilty of not reviewing the statements, so I do not know how long this may have been going on. Please people - review your E-Z Pass statements.
R.I.P, Pat Tillman
Some men live to die!
And it makes me wonder why?
When they have the world
on a string,
They feel they must leave
To pursue a dream that isn't new.
To be counted with a heroic few.
Some would dream to play
Ingest poison to be seven feet tall.
But others see beyond the gold
And take a path not being told.
Making it possible for all the rest
To chase their dream and do
FREEDOM isn't free.
LIBERTY has a price.
Many men and ladies too; have heard and met this call
For liberty and freedom
they have given their all.
For Pat Tillman my prayers
To God my thanks for Pat!
Civics Say No To Car Wash
To the Editor,
On behalf of the members of the Frank Avenue Civic Association of
Edgemere, I want to thank Councilman James Sanders Jr. for being the catalyst to bring together the Frank Avenue Civic and Bayswater Civic Association in our mutual desire to change the plans for a 24 hour/7 days carwash and lube, directly across from Edgemere's new homes, Bayswater Park, as well as a public school.
The last time the two civic associations joined forces was in the
successful protest and effort to close the Edgemere Landfill. If we had not worked hard to close the toxic landfill, it would have closed very much later. We were able to get the attention and important support of the late Councilman Walter Ward and former Borough President Claire Shulman to tip the scales toward closing the landfill. We also received help from Rockaway's environmentalists.
Today both Civic Associations are again in a struggle to protect the
improving quality of life in the Edgemere, Bayswater area of Rockaway. The carwash operators who own numerous carwash and lube enterprises and who have deep pockets are working their way through the political playing field to get the variance necessary to place their unwanted project right into the
face of the new home residents despite the opposition of the old and new residents of Edgemere and Bayswater. We are hopeful the City Council can show some respect for the wishes of the two civic associations before the variance for the facility goes to the Board of Standards and Appeals at 40 Rector Street on May 18, 2004.
We are grateful that Councilman Sanders came to our March, 2004 meeting and listened to our outrage and concern about the 24hour/7 days a week carwash and lube. He promised to come to our April meeting accompanied by the carwash operators and their lawyer.
At the April meeting, after viewing a photo of the operators' large
Bushwick Brooklyn carwash that was operating across from a cemetery, the residents did not want anything as shown in their community. After listening to the lawyer and the people at the meeting, Councilman Sanders suggested that amenities and modifications were needed related to the signs, lighting, need for landscaping and reduced hours of operation. James Sanders wanted the changes needed in written promises to him to make the plans less objectionable. A 10:30 PM closing/7 days a week is only a small beginning. It was not enough.
We believe that if new homes were built on the land, the carwash owner
would make more money and would satisfy the community. We also believe that their carwash is not viable and will fail in our community since there are 3 carwash operations in very close proximity to the one proposed.
However, regardless of what they finally do, the Frank Avenue Civic
Association and the Bayswater Civic Association are determined not to have the present ill conceived enterprise to be our community's misfortune.
STEVE COOPER,PRESIDENT, FRANK AVE. CIVIC EDWARD S. RASKIN, PRESIDENT, BAYSWATER CIVIC
Bet The House
Many locals won summer vacation money (or rent money) thanks to my Kentucky Derby picks of a year ago. Remember you ungrateful (i.e., nontipping) public how I gave you the inside on Funny Cide? Yeah, yeah, what have I done for you lately?
Well, fear not, a little tip fell off the back of a FedEx truck. Now you know, conventional wisdom says "L" stands for "loser." But who wants convention? My little bird on the delivery truck with the orange and blue lettering says stack your coins and put them on a couple of "L's."
Limehouse looks luscious. And Lion Heart looks luminous. Put your liras on these Ls and collect lots of lettuce. You won't be a loser, you'll be loaded.
Disclaimer: if these picks prove lame, lousy, or ludicrous, talk to the guy they call Lucky Dan Edwards.
Removal Of Handicapped Spots
I would like to express my disgust at the removal of handicapped parking spaces "in order to facilitate parking for police officers." I assume that since these people are actively employed as police officers they are physically capable of walking. I do not begrudge them a parking space, but I am very upset that physically active people are given priority over the disabled. The parking area by the wall has been reserved for the police for many years but the parking spaces by the fence near the municipal meters made life a little more reasonable for the physically challenged.
For many years there have been police cars parked in the handicapped spaces but I have never complained. I do, however, strongly resent their right to put their private cars in what were the handicapped spaces. You know as well as I do that if they are given this temporary right, it will become in their mind a permanent right.
I have multiple sclerosis and walk with crutches or use a wheelchair. Losing the right to park means adding about 15 minutes each way - in or out of the parking lot. This becomes almost unbearable in the rain and snow. It certainly means I have been denied the right to bank, shop, use the dry cleaners, and any other activity on 116 Street. The spots in the middle of the road are not an option for me because it takes too long to cross the street or to get the wheelchair out. It is simply too dangerous.
With the summer upon us, what few spaces there are will disappear. Please give the handicapped the same opportunity these cops are being given. Give back our parking! They can walk - we can't.
Letter From Iraq
(The following letter was sent to Cliff Russell, who recently toured Iraq with a rock-n-roll band, from a soldier he met during his tour. Russell lost his brother Stephen, a firefighter, on September 11, 2001.)
Hello all. Let me start by saying it has been a very quiet week. All is well and everyone is in good health. This week I am going to ramble on about a trip I took to a local neighborhood, so bare with me.
Half way through this story, I give you some of my thoughts, and then go back to the story. I figured I would tell you up front, so that it makes more sense when you are reading it.
This neighborhood is not far from me and is like most places here, is a dump. It is depressing. The good thing is you really can start to see the locals starting to take pride in their homes. You truly can see a change in the neighborhood as they become used to their new freedom. It is like the big bully who finally gets his ass kicked and no one is afraid anymore. They all want their chance to touch the American flag on our shoulder.
(This makes you proud to be a soldier and an American because these people truly know what it means to be free now. It is also a little depressing to think how many Americans take freedom for granted because they don't know what it is like not to be free. I am glad you all do not have to see this country or fight this war, but each night before you go to bed think of one freedom you have and then think what it would be like not having it. Many of us soldiers started doing it once we saw how other people in the world live. It will really make you stop and think.)
All in the neighborhood want the chance to show off, it is funny. The next time I go, I am going to take stuffed bears to hand out. We had to test the water first. The average home is probably 300 square feet, with or without windows, roof or door. Most now have a type of city water that you and I wouldn't drink. Some are on a city sewer, but most have septic tanks that haven't been maintained in years. Most adults and kids don't wear shoes and if they do, they are sandals. The younger generation is starting to become more westernized in the way they dress.
Redneck Fred even got a chance to help one of the locals round up one of his cows. It was funny - the local was yelling and screaming in Arabic, and me in English - so that poor cow just gave up I think. I couldn't get my driver to stop laughing; all in all a positive experience.
I received a pen in the mail from a Korean War vet from Lansdale, Pennsylvania. A group of volunteers are making wooden pens (my pen is cedar) and sending them to the troops in Iraq. Their goal is to send one pen per soldier.
I hope everyone is still getting these emails. I'm not getting as many responses as I did in the beginning. Not trying to make anyone feel bad, just want to make sure everyone stays up to date.
Keep up the letters, mail, packages and most importantly the great support for all these great soldiers. They are going to make you proud each and every day.
P.S. - I know this is obvious, but remember- the news only tells/shows you what it wants. To be honest, you are better off not watching it. I promise you will not see me on it because when I see a camera I go the other way. I will tell my story in a way that someone else can't change, manipulate or tell out of context.
FREDERICK R. SNYDER
VICTORY BASE SOUTH