Tom Reed at the border

duke of yorkOh, the grand old Duke of York;
He had ten thousand men;
He marched them up to the top of the hill,
And he marched them down again.

Veni vidi vici. — Julius Caesar

On August 18, an op-ed by Tom Reed appeared in the Elmira Star-Gazette (it appeared on August 12 in the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle). I believe this is his first since October 30, 2013 when he penned this nonsense:

For decades, our national government has spent much more money than it brings in. Save for a few years in the mid-nineties (when, incidentally, we had a Democratic President and a Republican House as we do now), our debt has grown to the point where it now totals $17 trillion dollars, or approximately $55,000 per man, woman and child in America. Think about that: for each baby born today, he or she draws their first breath in America owing over $55,000 in debt.

Tom Reed knows that no person of any age is personally responsible for any fraction of the national debt which has grown even more since 2013. Tom Reed, a legislator, does have responsibility for that.

Tom Reed is no Julius Caesar–he came to the border, saw evil former misleaders had wrought, and came back with no idea of what to do about it.

  • I recently went to the Mexican border to hear the stories of the broken, to breathe the air that immigrants breathe when they step into our country, and to see what occurs after they take that first step. I wanted to witness the impact this humanitarian crisis has had on them and on those who guard our borders — and I witnessed so many things.
  • I listened to the stories of the nameless multitudes…
  • I heard of hundreds of stories of heartbreak during my trip…

I don’t know if Tom wrote this; it is unlike anything I recall him writing before. Perhaps he used a ghostwriter. Amidst the maudlin rambling, there is little of substance. There is this:

  • I will use my seat at the table to ensure the work of the Problem Solvers continues and stand with these true leaders to address the immediate crisis at the border.
  • We will support efforts to ensure our border is safe through the construction of a “wall” using technology, steel, concrete and border personnel. 
  • At the same time, we will support innovative ways to process immigrants who will ultimately become part of our vibrant American quilt.
  • We will make sure those who desire to seek life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness can do so.

“Problem Solvers,” “a wall,” unspecified “innovative ways” are Tom’s answers. One could wish for more.

Posted in 2020, Campaigning, Congress, Homeland Security, Immigration, Political, Reed's Views | 1 Comment

Justice Comes First

laws not menIs that the law?–Shylock

“I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”


Justice, not legality, comes first; unjust laws should not be enforced nor obeyed. The Fugitive Slave Act from long ago is an example.

Shakespeare addresses this question in “The Merchant of Venice.”

Words such as “legal” and “citizen” are not found in the Pledge of Allegiance,” but the phrase “justice for all” is prominent and is found in every version of “The Pledge” since 1892.

“Citizen” occurs rarely in The Constitution and never in the Bill of Rights, which refers only to persons. Justice is the first thing mentioned in The Preamble.


Posted in Constitution, Immigration, Rights | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Does the GOP want Trump reelected?

new clothesPresident Trump is following through on his promise and standing up for American interests. I have no doubt that the disruptive policies of this administration will bring these countries (Mexico, Canada, and the European Union) to the table for a fair and negotiated outcome. —Rep. Tom Reed, May 31, 2018

Does the GOP want Trump reelected? Maybe not. They may be happy with him short-term, but he looks like a loser long-term. They may want to go back to being the Republican Party rather than a Trump Party with no future.

The GOP has achieved many of its goals already:

  • Obamacare weakened.
  • Many right-leaning judges confirmed.
  • Tax cuts for the rich.

They have set up the next administration for failure:

  • Tax cuts and debt limit due to expire.
  • Exploding budget deficit.
  • Impending recession.
  • Divisive immigration policy.
  • Unleashed racism.
  • Chaotic foreign policy.
  • Important departments understaffed.

The GOP might think it better sit back and watch the next administration flounder as face these problems themselves. Senators and Representatives might prefer to run against a Democratic Party record in 2024, than have to defend Trump’s record then.


Posted in Campaigning, Congress, Health Care, Political, Racism, Reed's Views, Taxes, trade, Trump | 2 Comments

Peter Rabbit

peter27Peter was most dreadfully frightened; he rushed all over the garden, for he had forgotten the way back to the gate.

He lost one of his shoes among the cabbages, and the other shoe amongst the potatoes.


I have long been puzzled by Beatrice Potters use of among and amongst in the same sentence in near identical prepositional phrases. The two words mean the same thing. Was it a stylistic flourish, or did the author have some obscure rule of grammar in mind?

I learned that the two words are different grammatically–among is a preposition used in a prepositional phrase; cabbages is the object of the preposition.

Amongst is an adverbial genitive identified by the ending “s.”  The additional ending “t” has no grammatical meaning–it is described as parasitic, unhistoric, or accidental. Perhaps it makes the word more natural to pronounce. (Some say amongst is used before a vowel, but that wasn’t the case here. Amongst is more common in British English, but if that were her motivation, why didn’t she use it in both places?)

An adverbial genitive is a noun in the genitive case that functions as an adverb. The noun here is akin to “mingled.”  Parts of speech in English are flexible; an adverb used with an object is a preposition.

I have followed this subject as far as I can. I still don’t know why Beatrice Potter used two different words with the same meaning. Perhaps it sounded better to her ear.

David Foster Wallace, who was not a mathematician, wrote a book on mathematics. It is a literary work, not a mathematical reference. The math might well be wrong. I am not a linguist; the above might well be wrong.


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Social Security Windfall Elimination Provision

Social Security Is ImportantTom Reed claims to have four principles for reforming Social Security. The principles are:

1. Long-term economic growth by rewarding work, not penalizing it,
2. Equal treatment for public servants,
3. Act now to protect future generations’ benefits, and
4. Protect the most vulnerable people through focused reforms.

These statements are cryptic, but surely not good ideas. The first means cut taxes. The third means cut benefits. The fourth means change SS from retirement insurance to welfare. But what about the second? Lorie Konish, writing for CNBC explains:

The Windfall Elimination Provision, or WEP, went into effect along with Social Security reform changes that were enacted in 1983. The rule means certain workers who are eligible for Social Security retirement or disability benefits, but who have also worked for employers who don’t withhold Social Security taxes, receive reduced benefits.

The logic behind the rule is that those workers also receive pensions from their other jobs, often in the public service sector. The WEP has some exceptions. For example, it does not apply to workers who have 30 or more years of substantial earnings under Social Security. It also does not apply to survivors’ benefits.

I don’t know why Republicans propose changing the WEP rule; their proposals would increase the cost of benefits while they resist proposals to increase revenue. Concern for teachers retirement income seems improbable for Republican legislators. This could be an ill-motivated effort to drain the trust fund faster.

Posted in Reed's Views, Social Security | 2 Comments

Bullying bills

problems-3“It is important to ensure our kids grow up free from the secret burdens of bullying. Keeping them safe from harassment, bullying and other forms of intimidation is a top priority in our district and across the country,” Tom said. “We are proud to work together to end this age-old problem that has spread to so many new forms with the growth of technology in our day to day lives.”–Rep Tom Reed

Rep. Tom Reed announced the introduction of bipartisan legislation called Danny’s Law to address bullying in schools with Representatives Max Rose (D-N.Y.), Peter King (R-N.Y.), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) and Haley Stevens (D-Mich.).

“Reed’s bill” is H.R. 3659. It was introduced by Max Rose (D-N.Y.). It currently has four cosponsors. Tom claims:

“Danny’s Law,” H.R. 3659, would direct the President to establish an “Anti-Bullying Roundtable,” a commission tasked with studying bullying in elementary and secondary schools in the United States. The Roundtable will be established to consult with State and local educational agencies regarding policies on bullying, stakeholder education, and instances of student violence and self-harm as a result of bullying.

A similar bill died in committee at the end of the 115th Congress.

Another bill,  The Safe Schools Improvement Act H.R. 2563 would:

… amend the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) to require school districts in states that receive ESEA funds to adopt codes of conduct specifically prohibiting bullying and harassment, including on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, and religion. SSIA would also require that states report data on bullying and harassment to the Department of Education. The Department of Education would then be required to provide Congress with a report on the state reported data every two years.

This bill has 57 cosponsors. Rep. Reed is not among them. Which of these bills is more likely to be accepted by the Democratic Party majority on the House Committee on Education and Labor?

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Events in Elmira at The Park Church

Next week on Wednesday, August 7th at 7 PM, the first of three Center for Mark Twain Studies at Elmira College lectures begins at The Park Church. The series will continue on the following two Wednesday evenings – August 14 and 21.  There will be a reception and a tour of the historic Park Church after the final lecture on August 21st.

In addition, a special performance on Saturday, August 17th at 2 PM at the Church, locally sponsored by the Friends of Woodlawn Cemetery, will be of interest to those who love local history. “Yours, for the Oppressed,” is a play about the conflicting perspectives of the Abolitionist Movement and the heart-stopping experiences of those involved in the Underground Railroad. This is a premiere traveling the state with actors from the Black Theatre Troupe of Upstate New York.

No tickets are required, all four of these events are offered free of charge, and donations will gratefully be accepted at the door.

The Park Church to Host Play about the Underground Railroad


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