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My representative Tim Bishop (NY-01) was one of the first to face the anti-HRC hysterics last summer. Their you-tube, which revealed their Me-First, Hate-Thy-Neighbor philosophy to its despicable core, hit the inter-tubes and apparently was effective in recruiting followers. It's sometimes called the first tea-party event.

Now he's being targeted with inflammatory, and possibly threatening posters put up by conservative tea-bag types in Riverhead. It's disgusting. Details are below the fold.

Incidentally, Bishop decided yesterday that he will support the bill. He's held out a long time, because he wanted a better bill. So did we all. But I'm glad he's coming on board, and I know he'll keep working to improve our health insurance system.

The posters are styled like an old western law-and-order poster, saying "Not Wanted" over the Congressman's picture. It makes a number of ridiculous claims designed to frighten and inflame passions.

Bishop asks, in his letter-to-the-editor of the Suffolk Times and News-Review:

Have our politics become so ugly and poisoned that we can't simply disagree, but have to hurl insults as well? In the wake of a madman crashing a plane into an IRS Building and another unstable person shooting guards near the Pentagon, do we really need more such incendiary language?

I have dedicated my public service to fighting for this community and, for better or worse, speaking the truth. So, no, I will not allow that service to be mischaracterized and I am offended your newspaper chose to publish such a hate-filled rant without fact-checking it. Finally, below this letter, you will see something that the author of that cowardly pamphlet failed to produce: My name.

I've been in touch regularly with Rep. Bishop over the past few months. He's been genuinely torn, I know. He supported a public option from early on. And he feels that the current bill has problems. His office has been responsive and respectful throughout, and he has stood before some pretty nasty crowds.

As he says in his announcement supporting the bill:

“When you peel back all the special interests, all the lobbying, all the fear, and examine the facts, it boils down to two simple questions, 1.) “Does this legislation improve upon a status quo that is failing millions of Americans and will soon be unsustainable for millions more?”  I believe the answer is yes. And, 2.) “Whose side am I on—the side of the working families in my district like the one I grew up in, or the insurance companies?”  I choose the families.

“This legislation will level the playing field between working families and insurance companies, save lives by insuring 30 million more Americans and keep Medicare solvent by finally cracking down on waste, fraud and abuse.  I am pleased that the reconciliation process corrected several deal-breakers for me in the Senate bill, notably the side deals worked out for states such as Nebraska and a provision related to Medicaid funding that would have cost New York several billion dollars.  Another important factor was the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office's analysis that estimates this bill will reduce the long term debt by over $1.3 trillion.

“This legislation takes several important steps to lower costs and make coverage more affordable.  It includes tort reform, holds insurance companies accountable for keeping down premiums, prevents denials of care and coverage for pre-existing conditions, and will create a health care insurance marketplace that will give millions of Americans the kinds of options enjoyed today by all federal employees, including Members of Congress.

Below is the full text of his email, which includes his letter-to-the-editor in response to the "Wanted" story, as well as supportive letters-to-the-editor from his constituents. (I don't have a link so am pasting it below in case people want the details. You can find the Suffolk Times story by googling "Suffolk Times Tim Bishop"--I'm not giving them a link).

Rep. Bishop is a reasonable, thoughtful Congressman, who in my experience is very responsive and works very hard for his constituents. He's being targeted by the old "Crookhaven" gang (the popular name for the GOP's long one-party fiefdom in Brookhaven county) who are reveling in their role in generating mass hysteria among the tea-baggers.

I think we need to keep this stuff front and center, and show our brave congresspersons some love. The tea-partiers thrive on silencing and intimidating their critics.  No way they get away with that.

Here's the full text of the email I got this morning.

Tim Bishop for Congress
____________________________________

                                                                                   March 18, 2010

Dear Friend,

As I told you, last week, a local newspaper published an anonymous "wanted" poster of me and described me as Long Island's "number one enemy" of Conservative tea party groups.  I am proud of how so many Long Islanders have responded and are fighting back.

Below, are a number Letters to the Editor, including my own, which appeared in this week's Suffolk Times.  I am also thankful that people donated over $2,000 from the last email to help me fight back.  Let's keep up the momentum and continue to fight for our Long Island values together.  Please click this link to send my campaign much needed support
Thanks,
Tim

SOUTHAMPTON

'Wanted poster' is politics at its ugliest

I understand better than most that politics is a contact sport. I can take a punch, but I'm no one's punching bag. I will not sit back and bite my tongue after the Suffolk Times and News-Review published a dishonest and malicious "Wanted Poster" which an anonymous coward is papering to light poles.

The negativity and lies it contains is shocking. It lies by quoting me as saying, "I don't care what the people think. I know best." I have never spoken those words. Not in the 100-plus town hall meetings I have held. Not in the thousands of appointments and phone calls I have held with constituents.
It lies by calling me a "career politician." Never mind the fact that I ran for my first-ever office at the age of 52 after working for 29 years at a private university.

Most offensively, it lies by saying I have violated the U.S. Constitution. Look, I understand that some people don't agree with all my votes, but I took an oath to defend the Constitution of the United States and I have lived by that oath each day. Anyone has a right to disagree with my views, challenge my positions, but no one has a right to slander me with lies. The Wanted Poster is an open-and-shut case of what's worst about politics. It's wrong and it's dangerous.

Have our politics become so ugly and poisoned that we can't simply disagree, but have to hurl insults as well? In the wake of a madman crashing a plane into an IRS Building and another unstable person shooting guards near the Pentagon, do we really need more such incendiary language?
I have dedicated my public service to fighting for this community and, for better or worse, speaking the truth. So, no, I will not allow that service to be mischaracterized and I am offended your newspaper chose to publish such a hate-filled rant without fact-checking it. Finally, below this letter, you will see something that the author of that cowardly pamphlet failed to produce: My name.

Congressman Tim Bishop
SOUTHOLD

We need Tim Bishop

I am writing in response to the several pages of copy you gave anti-Tim Bishop factions last week, complete with a scurrilous half-page poster illustrating the Tea Party agenda.

These tea-baggers that you quoted seem to want everything and yet pay for nothing. They have drunk the Fox News Kool-aid and are running around like Glen Beck clones creating panic and chaos, with, as far as I can tell, not one good idea between them on how to fix the mess that the last administration left us with. They are not "going rogue," they are going negative and lying and distorting the record of a great public servant, Tim Bishop.

Congressman Bishop has been a strong and successful advocate for working people and this community. He voted for the Recovery Act, a good and necessary idea, which gave tax cuts to 95 percent of Americans. Sounds like something a true conservative should like to me. Why do the tea-baggers who you quoted either not like this, know this or lie about it?

Thanks to Rep. Bishop, schools in his district also received recovery funds covering approximately 4 percent of total school budgets. With Albany in chaos and the state deep in debt, without these funds, hundreds of teachers would have lost their jobs and our taxes would have soared. In addition, Congressman Bishop obtained extensions of deductions for property taxes, education expenses and food donations for the many Long Islanders who needed this desperately. He does what we need him to do: protect our interests without compromising his integrity or stated values.

I find the idea that this kind of misguided, uneducated and misinformed behavior that the so-called tea-partyers indulge in could result in handing power back to the very people who created the financial and military mess we are in now by getting rid of honest public servants like Tim Bishop is quite appalling and, frankly, terrifying.

My son is in the Army and I would hate to think that in the next few years we could end up with the same war-mongering corporate crowd that brought us an eight-year war in Iraq and a worldwide financial meltdown. It is appalling how our armed services were treated by the last administration and the complete chaos of our institutions and virtual bankruptcy of our country, a goal Al-Quaeda failed to accomplish despite its intent when it destroyed the Twin Towers, our own government under Bush did for them.

We need honest, compassionate, selfless and responsible politicians like Tim Bishop. I am grateful for his service and he deserves far more respect and support than your article showed.

Marilyn Anne Marks

CUTCHOGUE

Quite irresponsible

The recent Tea Party article contained specific information about a meeting that a political group held. The accompanying photograph of a poster of Tim Bishop, prominently featured, without any comment as to where it came from or its veracity is irresponsible reporting.

There should have been, at the very least, a caption saying that no organization takes credit for this name-calling, wild exaggeration. The Suffolk Times should be more careful printing a photo without any fact-checking done into the claims on the poster. The claims in the poster are absolutely without any truth.

Tim Bishop has never violated the constitution, Long Island is not bankrupt and what are the three biggest tax hikes in U.S. history that he supposedly voted for? Tim Bishop was at Southampton College for 29 years. He has been in Congress for seven years. That hardly sounds like a "career politician." What is true is that he has been ably representing the people of eastern Suffolk County, and the upcoming election should be conducted with accurate statements available for the voters to make informed decisions. By running this photo, you give legitimacy to information that is incorrect and misleading.

Cookie Slade

SOUTHOLD

Irony and hypocrisy

I find it ironic, to say the least, that, at least two members of the Tea Party interviewed for the article, "Tea Party Looking for Poll Power" work for the government, one as a teacher and the other for Suffolk County.

Irony, being the softer side of hypocrisy, is the word I would use to describe the fact that these families get a full line of government benefits, including health insurance, at taxpayer expense. Yet they claim to be vociferous opponents of government and a national health insurance plan which they equate with socialism. I suppose they would like the national buck to stop with them, while millions of working Americans who do not have the privilege of working for the government or a large utility should go without. I would like to ask these Tea Party members why government sponsored and subsidized health insurance is good for them but not for others?

While I do agree with the Tea Party in their position against the large government bailouts of banks and such, I am totally against them when it comes to fairness in health insurance and especially those who, while complaining about government expenditures, are the recipients of the costly and coveted benefits that government workers enjoy even long after they retire.

Harry Katz

SHELTER ISLAND

Why fan the flames?

I was very offended by the display of the "wanted" poster for Tim Bishop in last week's issue. It unfairly legitimizes the tea party movement, which is made up of a negative collection of every complainer and every right-wing issue.

As an example, I attended an event for Mr. Bishop in Riverhead awhile back. The police were on site because the tea party people had bused in hecklers. They accosted law-abiding folk as they entered Atlantis. They shouted epitaphs, videotaped people entering, displayed signs depicting unborn fetuses and our president caricatured as Hitler, anti-Hispanic slogans and a hodgepodge of everything except the kitchen sink. It was very offensive.

The "wanted" poster contained untruths about Tim Bishop, a public servant who has patiently listened to his constituents. He is a fair, intelligent and thoughtful elected official who serves eastern Long Island very well. I hope that the editorial staff at The Suffolk Times thinks a bit more next time before fanning the fires of hatred and misinformation.

Heather Reylek

GREENPORT

A better description

The March 4 article on the Tea Party members mentions that most of them have not been politically active in the past.

As I see it, "not politically informed" would be a better description.

Teresa Taylor

CUTCHOGUE

More wild rantings

I am a Democrat. I acknowledge that others have different political beliefs, but after thinking about your lengthy Tea Party article I feel certain aspects of this piece do not do anyone in the community any good. We read and hear so much these days of the desire of the American people for less rabid partisanship and political rancor. People say they want to see more discussing and less attacking. Your own editorial "Democracy at its best" points out that discussion and debate give us a "real choice" this year. But take a critical look at your own Tea Party article.

It is one of the lengthiest pieces I have seen in The Suffolk Times and its first page is dominated by a large photo of a poster. The poster is mean-spirited and its overall take-away is that Congressman Bishop is a criminal by its mimicry of a wanted poster and its list of incorrect statements. Who says and what is the evidence that Congressman Bishop is "violating the Constitution"? Who are these people making the claims on this political poster? Nobody knows. Your interviewees stated they know, but even they are unwilling to say. Should The Suffolk Times be printing the wild unsubstantiated rantings that are presented as fact by people who are hiding in the shadows?

Further, the poster picture has no caption explaining that this political radicalism does not even have the Tea Party name on it nor that the four points made are untrue and that Congressman Bishop is hardly a "career politician." The Congressman was at Southampton College for 29 years and has been a Congressman for what will be four terms.

Further along, the article uses the subheadline in large bold type, "Enemy Number 1: Tim Bishop." This is inflammatory name-calling and, at best, is political hype, not good journalism.

Lastly, it is my feeling the tenor of the piece is one-sided. After 36 column inches of Tea Party copy, the last five column inches provide some balance. We all know that most people will not read that deep, so the little balance that was provided was largely meaningless.

It is the responsibility of The Suffolk Times to live up to its editorial "Democracy at its best" and reduce the political name-calling. Printing this poster so prominently works to achieve the opposite. The Suffolk Times should acknowledge this to its readers, not only by printing opposing letter(s) to the editor, but by admitting in its own editorial that the poster of such questionable origins and veracity should not have been published at all.

Morton Cogen

CUTCHOGUE

Stormy, with a chance of meatheads

I urge everyone to investigate the Green Homes program in the Town of Babylon that provides help to make older homes more energy-efficient.

We certainly need something similar in Southold.

I have written a letter to Congressman Bishop, Senators Schumer and Gilibrand and President Obama about the need for a low-interest FEMA-style loan program for green home improvements and the purchase of electric cars, vehicles that could be plugged into a home generating source. All the technology is available, we just have to figure out how to pay for it.

I also tried to get through your article on the tea party movement. What came to mind was Archie Bunker's famous "meatheads" quote. I spoke to tea partyers last summer at an overcrowded Town Hall meeting sponsored by Representative Tim Bishop, which I did not get into. This person listed all the well-known complaints: too much government, it's too big, government taking over our decision making, socialist agenda, etc. When I asked about their health care, they admitted their 20-year-old children were not covered, but they had no problem because their children went to emergency rooms for all their health concerns, which according to them was "free." That's the most expensive form of health care, which we all pay for. "Meatheads!"

Good government requires you to use the stuff between your ears to think. An effective health care system, low-interest government loans for green home improvements and electric car purchases and a host of other things is what good government, at any level, should be all about.

One thing I agree with the tea partyers about is if the Democrats can't do it, then somebody else should. But, please, no "meatheads" need apply.

Alex Wipf

NEW SUFFOLK

GOP tells tall tales

I am afraid that the "images" Gunther Geiss reports in his recent letter are the result of paying too much attention to the tall tales told by the Republicans.

Far from ignoring the risk of budget deficits, President Obama has from the beginning insisted that any health care reform bill he signed could not add to the deficit. And indeed, the Senate bill, which is the basis of his specific proposal, has been evaluated by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office as decreasing the deficit.

As far as the long-running deficit is concerned, the president demonstrated his concern by supporting the bipartisan Conrad-Gregg bill for a commission to create a package of solutions to the deficit problem (spending curbs and tax increases) to be voted on by Congress. Unfortunately, this bill failed, despite the support of 60 percent of the Democratic Senators because it was opposed by 60 percent of the Republican Senators, including seven Republicans who previously cosponsored it. Apparently the Republicans changed their minds because it was in danger of passing. The president then appointed a similar commission, but without Congressional support it will have less clout.

On the other hand, maybe the "images" Mr. Geiss reports are a flashback to an earlier time. There was a president who paid no attention to fiscal consequences while supporting a change affecting health care. That was George W. Bush and the Medicare prescription drug benefit.

Stanley Brown

Originally posted to political junquie on Sat Mar 20, 2010 at 04:21 AM PDT.

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