Tom Reed listens at the Southeast Steuben County Library

ae quote

I met with Dick Cheney–Tom Reed

I attended Tom Reed’s listening meeting at the Southeast Steuben County Library on Friday, Sept. 12, 2014. I counted ten constituents–five men and five women–plus Tom’s entourage. Tom passed out a map of the Levant and a copy of President Obama’s address. I took notes with pencil and note pad. Here is what I recorded:

Reed said the President asks for authority to arm the Free Syrian Army. (The President didn’t use the term “Free Syrian Army” which doesn’t yet exist) Tom said his personal primary concern was a threat to America. He noted that the Free Syrian Army has two enemies: ISIL and Assad. What happens if Assad is defeated, he wondered.

  1. A man (a former Peace Corps Volunteer in Iran) worried that we would be drawn into a conflict that would stretch our resources. He wondered if we could reach out to ISIL to tame them somehow. He noted that fighting breeds more fighting.
  2. A second man noted that we may train rebels we later have to fight. He wondered if we could cut ISIL supply lines instead of fighting. He said that we might better support dictators sometimes.
  3. A woman wanted to know why we need  Middle Eastern oil. Reed responded with his domestic production talking points. Reed claimed that ISIL sells oil for profit. (Is this right? No one challenged this, but I am doubtful.)
  4. The same woman asked about uncontrolled immigration. She feared jihadists entering the country. She said there was a jihadist training camp in Binghamton. Tom seemed to accept that claim saying domestic terrorists are a real threat.
  5. The woman then stated that they (Muslims) hate Jews and Christians. Reed countered that “one should not paint all Muslims with one brush.”
  6. A third man wondered what might happen if nothing were done–the Free Syrian Army were not armed by us. Tom said ISIL’s objective was to become a state, control oil production, and expand. The questioner didn’t see a clear advantage in backing anti-ISIL forces. Tom said air power wasn’t enough, we need ground troops (supplied by others) before ISIL gets stronger and acquires WMDs.
  7. A second woman wondered how the President was doing forming a coalition. Tom said there was progress mentioning Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Qatar. What about NATO, she asked. Tom mentioned Turkey.
  8. The first woman asked why President Obama had allowed our military to be whittled down to the point of being ineffective.  Reed seemed to agree, mentioned Ukraine, but said expense was an issue–“we need to get our fiscal house in order.”
  9. The first man wondered if ISIL would have been deterred if our military were stronger. Tom alluded to premature withdrawal from Iraq without elaboration.
  10. A woman asked if other countries are joining us. Tom mentioned Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Turkey.
  11. Someone asked if ISIL could become a recognized state. Maybe, Tom said, but I am against it.
  12. The first woman continued to attack Muslims suggesting that Sharia Law required believers to kill non-Muslims. Reed again cautioned against over generalizing.
  13. I suggested that the conflict was complicated and dangerous and that we ought to proceed with caution, that non-military measures were preferred, and that Congress ought to vote on the President’s request. Tom said he agreed.

The meeting lasted about 45 minutes. Reed concluded by assuring the audience that there was little danger of ISIS conducting Cyberwar or acquiring WMDs at this time.

© William Hungerford – September 2014



About whungerford

* Contributor at where we discuss the politics, economics, and events of the New New York 23rd Congressional District (Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Chemung, (Eastern) Ontario, Schuyler, Seneca, Steuben,Tioga, Tompkins, and Yates Counties) Please visit and comment on whatever strikes your fancy.
This entry was posted in 2014, Congress, Constituents, Political, President, Reed's Views, Terrorism, War and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to Tom Reed listens at the Southeast Steuben County Library

  1. Deb meeker says:

    Thank you for sharing your time and notes from this meeting. Taking notes can be tedious, but your notes really help those of us who could not attend an idea of what Reed is up to.
    Unfortunately Tom Reed gives this type of meeting the misnomer of “listening tour”. He and his staff are the ones who should have been taking notes.
    Reed made it clear in his last tour concerning the Syrian crisis that “In a series of listening stops Tuesday and Wednesday, Reed informed constituents that he plans to vote “no” next week when the House is expected to consider a resolution on authorizing President Obama to use military force to prevent further use of chemical weapons in Syria.”. He had made up his mind on how he would vote before stepping foot inside a meeting place to – listen.

    It may well be my cynicism of all things Reed, but there always seems to conveniently be some wild talking “ignoramus” who insists that the bogey man ( Islamists) are coming to get us, thus enabling Reed to be the ‘authoritative’ voice of assurance to calm the patient down.This while planting the seed that “conducting Cyberwar or acquiring WMDs” were ever in question on American soil.


  2. whungerford says:

    In 2013, I believe Republicans were united in opposing whatever President Obama might propose to do. This year, just before elections, they are divided and cautious about taking a position that might prove unpopular. Reed, a moderate Republican, likely does hold weakly moderate views–neither isolationist nor hawkish at present, he could go either way in the future.


  3. BOB McGILL says:

    seems to me that, at the present time, nobody has a plan that has guaranteed results. Why pick on Tom for being cautious ?


  4. whungerford says:

    Bob, I agree that caution in a complex and dangerous matter is a wise course. That said, what is your view of the President’s plan?


  5. Anne says:

    A jihadist training camp in Binghamton? Did she expand on those remarks? I am glad to see Tom acknowledge that domestic terrorists are a real concern; I hope he was thinking about some of the far-right, anti-government groups and militias currently active in our country, and not simply of Muslim-Americans (credit to him for trying to defuse that anti-Islam sentiment, though).


  6. Anne says:

    Also, the statement “I met with Dick Cheney” should *always* be followed by the adpositional phrase “at the federal prison where he is doing his time.” That anyone would listen to a single thing Cheney has to say defies belief. That Tom would think to mention it only amplifies my sense of his own lack of intellectual skill.


  7. whungerford says:

    She said there was information about it on the internet. I checked and found some examples from sources that seemed to me highly unreliable.


  8. whungerford says:

    Tom said that Cheney had warned not to underestimate the threat of terrorism. When I objected that Cheney’s advice was suspect, I was treated to a well-practiced “never forget” lecture.


  9. Not only does Tom Reed not listen very much, it seems that he does not think very much either. He has no credible plan or opinion. His “reactions” to audience comments are not what I would expect from an informed, engaged congressional representative.


  10. whungerford says:

    It is fair to say that even President Obama’s plan, which may be as good as any, is hardly above criticism–no one has a plan that can be shown to be flawless.


  11. Anne says:

    ….never forget that Cheney & company are war criminals? I’m not likely to.


  12. Anne says:

    It’s hard not to assume that Reed’s so-called listening events are less about trying to gauge the mood of his constituency, and more about trying to come up with ideas, as he has none of his own. I remember a mailing from him a few years back when he asked, point-blank, for ideas on something (I think it had to do with job creation) and it was patently clear that he was asking only because he had no ideas of his own. So no, the man doesn’t have any sort of intellectual chops. I guess it’s no surprise that he attended a bottom-of-the-barrel law school and then chose to form his legal career around debt collection (the only area of law that the ambulance chasers can sniff at).


  13. Deb Meeker says:

    Taking the liberty to translate that, I’ll assume that means he will do as his leadership tells him. He may in fact have a personal opinion, but I contend it will remain buried beneath the weight of fear for loss of his job, and/or displeasing his leadership. Sorry to say, Tom Reed’s being a moderate in some cases, just means he hasn’t a backbone.


  14. James Skaley says:

    If folks really want to know what little Reed has done that benefits us in the 23rd district. Here is an analysis of his voting record: you can go to and/or Project Vote Smart to check these sources:
    Congressman Tom Reed Voting on Issues That Concern NY 23 on Nov 4 Election
    Tom Reed is a member of the Tax writing committee in the House and:
    * Votes with GOP party 92% and abstains 4%
    * Votes with Tea Party 75%
    * Votes with Right to Life 100%
    * Votes with Competitive Enterprise Institute dedicated to eliminate labor privileges 83%
    * Votes with Libertarian Freedom Works an average of 53%
    * Votes with League of Conservation Voters 7%
    * Votes with United Food & Commercial Workers 14%
    * Votes with Senior Citizen groups 11%

    Reed voted to extend child care tax credits for families making six figures. He did not extend this tax credit to families with incomes less than $50,000/yr. Up to half of these lower income families may lose their child tax credit by 2017. (HR4935)

    Reedʼs votes in favor of the Ryan Budget Plan could cause 28,000 newly insured in the 23rd district to lose health care coverage. Support for the Ryan Budget would also turn Medicare for seniors into a voucher program that cost seniors up to $6,000/yr.

    Student Loans. With student debt estimated at 1.2 Trillion, Reed has voted against the idea of a Student Loan Bank that would allow students to refinance their current loans attodayʼs low interest rates. (HR4582)

    Burger King just announced it is moving its headquarters to Canada. This means it can skip out on substantial U. S. taxes. Reed has received 358,659 from corporations that oppose a bill to restrict U.S. corporations from using this tax loophole. (HR4679)

    Reed supports a bill to substitute overtime pay for comp time, threatening the idea of a 40 hr work week and pay for working on weekends–meaning you work more and take home less pay–but you get more time off with no pay. (HR1406)

    Reed is a climate change denier. He has voted to restrict funds to monitor climate change (HR3409 and two separate votes on amendments) despite near universal scientific indications and concerns of the business community that human activity is resulting in climate change that will cost the economy hundreds of billions in lost agricultural production, coastal storm damage, higher electrical costs and increased health costs (cited in Risky Business–the economic risks of climate change in the U.S. co-chaired by H. Paulson former GOP Treasury Sec. under Pres. George W. Bush).

    Reed has voted multiple times to restrict or rollback EPA regulations on clean air and clean water earning him a 7% rating by the League of Conservation Voters. His campaign is heavily funded by gas and oil industry groups that support hydro-fracking. Hydro-fracking could threaten the NY Finger Lakes grape and wine/tourist industries. The NY grape and wine industry generates over $4.8 billion annually for the state’s economy, and the Finger Lakes with more than 130 wineries account for about 75 percent or approximately $3.6 billion in annual revenue. (Dixon interview on Rochester


  15. whungerford says:

    James, thanks for your comments. Do you have an opinion on Tom Reed’s foreign policy views or on President Obama’s plan to save the Levant from anarchy?


  16. whungerford says:

    That seems harsh, Deb. Would you feel better if Tom offered to bomb anything moving between Beirut and Tehran, or if he offered to say no to anything President Obama proposes whatever it is. I don’t think it unreasonable for Tom to be a little wishy-washy when even experts can’t see a clear way forward.


  17. James Skaley says:

    A quick look at the Congressional record suggests that he votes party line, but mostly middle of the road–


  18. Deb Meeker says:

    Let’s not condescend. Having a backbone doesn’t equate with being a war monger to me, William. Having a backbone equates with having the fortitude to either get educated about a topic and stating your opinion, or saying the equivalent of ” I don’t know”. In my opinion Reed straddles the fence, then votes as he is told to on critical legislation. This blog has frequently written about other legislators who have given reasons for topics and their votes. And, while some of us may wince at their opinions, we can respect the fact they have one and state it to their constituents. This is not a new tack for Mr. Reed, given the seriousness of the topic. This is a protection policy for him.
    Upon being criticized for his two votes to 1.shut down and 2. keep the government shut down – if you will remember, his ultimate response was: “We just found ourselves there”.
    Well hallelujah, that made me feel much better.


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