Other Residents Being Disrupted 3-29-05

Other residents being disrupted

(Original publication: March 29, 2005)

I am very concerned about the other residents of the hospice in which Terri Schiavo is dying. Don't these people have the right to spend their final days or weeks in a quiet environment without bagpipes, bullhorns and loud praying and television cameras? No matter what one thinks about who should be in control, who should intervene and what role the courts and the executive branch should play, one should have some concern about the other residents. Their family members must go through security before they can visit their loved ones.
I heard a story on the news the other day about a woman who was delayed by security in her desire to see her dying grandfather (he died before she was able to reach his bedside).
It is unfortunate that the news media, including this newspaper, have not done any stories about the wonderful care and the wonderful people who work in hospices.

Linda Garfunkel, Tarrytown

RJG announces his attentions 3-25-05

March 22, 2005


Ms. Suzanne Berger


Greenburgh Democratic Town Committee

120 Bellair Drive

Dobbs Ferry, New York 10522


Dear Ms. Berger,


I hope that this letter finds you and yours quite well. It has come to my attention that the Greenburgh Democratic Town Committee will be interviewing interested personages regarding potential designations for the position of Greenburgh Town Councilperson. I would like to inform you of my plans to seek that designation.


As a long time activist, regarding public service and Democratic politics, on the local and national level, I believe that my experience and judgment would uniquely qualify me as a candidate for the position of Town Councilperson. Despite the fact that I have not been a life time resident of the Town of Greenburgh, I have been a native son of Westchester all my life. For over 36 years, from my earliest days as a member of the White Plains Democratic Committee, I have been involved in both community and political activity. As early as 1972 I was White Plains co-Chairperson for the George McGovern campaign for President, and recently I was on the New York State Finance Committee for General Wesley Clark.  In between I have served as the campaign manager for Martin Rogowsky when he ran for the State Assembly in 1976, been an advance man for Congressman Richard Ottinger, while my wife Linda was on his staff for 8 years, was Organization Chairperson of the White Plains Democratic City Committee for a number of years, and have been an active participant in many, many campaigns.


I have also been deeply involved in charitable work and the promotion of public policy issues, by reaching out to young people through my founding of the Jon Breen Fund at Mount Vernon High School. During my few years in the Town of Greenburgh, I have served as an active member of the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, and as a Deputy Supervisor. As an appointed Deputy Supervisor I have been assigned the task of engaging ordinary citizens to become involved in government through Supervisor Feiner’s “Liaison Program.” This program was designed to get people, who are not ordinarily involved, active in the political process. I have also proposed initiatives regarding the use of alternate sources of energy to the Town Board, and the creation of a town-wide Beautification Foundation. That concept is modeled on the extremely successful White Plains Beautification Foundation and would work to upgrade neighborhoods, local parks, traffic circles and common areas by raising money, providing matching funds and promoting awareness of the importance of neighborhood pride, beautification and cleanliness.


As a member of the Town Board, I would be a strong and independent voice regarding the need to support the excellent record of services we have all enjoyed, balanced within the boundaries of economic reality. In other words, I want to keep Greenburgh an affordable place for all types of people, representing all strata of income, to live and enjoy this wonderful town. I would also be a strong advocate of Supervisor Feiner’s efforts to keep “open and transparent” government as a number one objective. I have known Supervisor Feiner for over 30 years and I believe that with my assistance the Town Board will function much more cohesively. Along with that, I would be an active promoter of more citizen participation on “voluntary boards.” I also believe that the Town of Greenburgh should be first and foremost regarding clean energy and on the “cutting edge” of technology. I support Supervisor Feiner’s initiative on promoting WIFI in the parks and I look forward to finding other more creative ways for Greenburgh to use technology to create efficiencies and more energy independence from foreign fossil fuel.


I have also included my resume, by separate attachment, for the committee’s consideration. I would like to be interviewed, at the convenience of the Greenburgh Town Democratic nominating/designating committee. Unfortunately because of a long-time previous commitment I will be out of the area on the evening of March 31, 2005. I hope that the committee will have other time available to consider my candidacy in person. I would appreciate it also if you could make this letter and my resume available to the Town Committee by e-mail, since I do not have a current list of district leaders addresses.


Again, thank you for your consideration. I can be reached at 914-





Richard J. Garfunkel




Scalia, FDR and the Conflict Between the Margins 3-16-05

Richard J. Garfunkel
March 16, 2005
A Responce to Thoughts on Justice Scalia

There is no doubt that the normal educated and enlightened folk are caught between two masters One is the ultra liberal inclusion group who trash all morays and expect society to function in the Auntie Mame “grammar school” mode, where everyone dances around naked. They proposed de-standardization and de-construction with a Phoenix bird rising from the ashes. Gay marriage is in itself ridiculous. Marriage is a sacred and legal arrangement between the two genders to codify the arrangement with a certain set of legal and moral vows and rules. The assumption was and should be that marriage was the covenant that afforded the best atmosphere for raising and sustaining the next generation. Well some people cannot have children, and some won't have children, so be it! But they established the boundaries of their personal life with marriage. Did that rule out cheating, abandonment and divorce, no! But like prohibition, alcohol consumption dropped off dramatically in that period. Prohibition of course was a failure, and to a degree many marriages are a failure. But in a sense they are both “noble experiments.” The “open” marriage concept of a heterosexual union will not long work. In the opposite sense, homosexual or “gay” marriage is a charade. It cannot really work any more then the real and voluntary commitment of each partner. Society has no real investment in its working, there are no children really involved. Their union doesn't propagate the species. In fact, no one gives a hoot and holler whether childless heterosexual couples separate or divorce. It is irrelevant. Therefore, among other related subjects, the marginalized left cannot and should not dominate the political thinking of our social order.
The Democrats wandered along for generations as the “out party” who were  seen as splintered regionalists with differing ideals. They were opposed by the GOP oligarchs that dominated national politics after the Civil War by creating prosperity through “wage-slavery,” colonialism and monopoly. As the poet says, “the rising tide lifts all boats.” Therefore at the height of the GOP power, under William McKinley the business interests became dominant. Woodrow Wilson understood this differently, and partly his ascendancy and power came from the reform movement opposed to capitalist abuse, well documented by Ida Tarbell, Upton Sinclair and other muckrakers. 
But the Democrats were only successful because of the split between the ruling GOP's factions. The GOP had its own problems, and its business interests were challenged from within their party by the reform forces of Teddy Roosevelt and his progressives, that included people like William Allen White, the La Follettes and others.
In 1924 another clone of this business oligarchic model, Calvin Coolidge (who in one of his few loquacious moments said, “the business of America is business.”) won a landslide electoral vote election with 15.7 million votes against the total of 8.3 million votes by his Democratic opponent John W. Davis. What is forgotten is that Robert La Follette received almost 5 million votes! This represented more votes than TR or Taft received while losing to Wilson 12 years earlier. The progressive vote was out there, but it was divided, and still served as a “spoiler” vote against both parties.
Therefore, the social progressives were never strong enough to capture the mainstream of the American electorate, until the collapse of our economic system in 1932, following four long years of Depression. As Arthur Schlesinger said in his seminal series on “The Age of Roosevelt” and in his opening book “The Crisis of the Old Order,” as he quoted Emerson, “Every revolution was first a thought in one man's mind.” So change came! Robert Sherwood said, on that gray Inauguration Day on March 4, 1933, that the President “radiated optimism, but what lay behind the mask of smiles?”
He wrote, “Are we sure that you have fixed your eyes on a goal beyond the the politician's ken? Have you the will to reach the far horizon where rest the hopes of men?”
As for Franklin Roosevelt, no one could tell what lay behind the imperturbable composure. He said when he had run for Vice-President, that he set forth his concept of the President as the “leader” of the nation. In 1928 he said, “There is no magic in Democracy that does away the need for leadership.” As to the influence of his two philosophical mentors, Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson, he once wrote, “Theodore Roosevelt lacked Woodrow Wilson's appeal to the fundamental and failed to stir, as Wilson did, the truly profound moral and social convictions. Wilson on the other hand, failed where Theodore Roosevelt succeeded in stirring people to enthusiasm over specific individual events, even though these specific events may have been superficial in comparison with the fundamentals.”
All in all,  the spirit and practicality of reform is essential, but it doesn't solve all of our problems. FDR through the combination of events that had resulted from the Crash and the subsequent economic collapse, and his strong charisma and leadership, was able to link both social and economic reform. His realistic and practical ideal created the ongoing coalition of marginal groups and practicalists that would contain and reverse the Depression, resurrect, the middle class by the dual works of the WPA and the PWA, build the “Arsenal of Democracy,”  with our re-constituted work force and the previous efforts of central control emanating from the New Deal, win the war, re-build and save Western Europe, contain the Communists, bring social justice to the poor in America, and bring on unequalled prosperity and opportunity in America. As we were “the Arsenal of Democracy,” Roosevelt, the Soldier of Freedom, became the “Architect of Victory,” of the Western World over the corruption of the old world.
But social justice must be part and parcel with economic justice and opportunity. The issue of women's reproductive rights is is a natural extension of human rights. But of course the gulf and conflict between those like Justice Scalia who would pose as “protectors” of the helpless, and the activists who preach “rights” over responsibility is wide. As the great Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr, said, “The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man in falsely shouting fire in a theatre and causing a panic…”
To borrow a another quote from Holmes, who said in Buck vs.. Bell in 1927, “Three generations of imbeciles are enough.” When it comes to our present leader, I think this quote is apt. Any evaluation of his father and grandfather could easily be fitted into this evaluation.  Whether the war in Iraq has some justification or not, his prosecution of it has lead to the persecution of the American people. Because of his inept bungling and misplaced sense of values, he has divided the country, abused his narrow mandate and put our economic system at risk. Frankly, as far out as some of our left thinkers are, the danger of our own collapse is much more possible from both our economic dependency on oil, foreign purchases of our debt, and our budgetary insanity.
But be that as it may, harkening back to leadership, it can never be totally discounted for good or evil. Bush, for some, is seen as a determined leader with a vision. History may eventually side with him. “Success has many fathers, as failure is an orphan” as said by JFK. My sense is that we have to succeed in spite of him.
Kaaren Hale Responds
Subject: Scalia
Dear Richard,  Thank you for sending me the commentary on Judge Scalia.  These are confusing times, where we equate certain social and personal mores with the greater issues of governance and public defense .  The initial flaws in the American Constitution were its sections on the acceptance of Slavery, the Great Compromise etc, and  lawyers and justices have been battling out the implications ever since, ie what constitutues human rights, male and female.  This tends, overall, to get into the defininition of a human (a slave was only 2/3rds as I remember) and now the fetus.  Is it any wonder that large minded people are getting exhausted with the issue.  Even Hilary, has oftferered a paw to the opposition in that being an intelligent woman (!) she realises that there is an issue over the basic perception of “what constitutes a human?” 
       Many of us would like to turn back the clock on the liberal agenda. to some degree.  FDR was a great man and a clever politician and as you well know, he tried never to get too far away from public opinion.  You cannot lead in a democracy by upending all the established norms, ( that is called revolution)  and he knew that.  Whether by stealth or rationality, his programs of social participation and responsibility,  the safety nets etc, took root and now these original humanistic concepts are mired down in an viscous mud of  raging individualism and the near death of community solidarity .  We just never know where things lead.  Abortion is now leading to euthanasia, and perhaps euthanasia will lead directly to Nazi like assumptions of who should be born (already an issue) and who should  have the right to live.  It is all too much for me to figure out.  
        I agreed with Bush on Iraq.  I do not agree with the neo cons on Iran.  The Iranians have  a running battle since the fifties with the USA and they would, despite their anger at the mulluhs, defend any incursion to the death.  So go not into Isfahan, Bushites.  I believe the techtonic plates of the Middle East are moving and the Iranians have always said that if there were progress on the IS -PAL front they would accept it.  Remember the Iranians did business with the Isrealis for decades. 
       I do not agree with the Republican party on the issues of the environment at all, and their cynical exploitation of the religious right, the so called Rapture group, makes me hurl.  I do not agree with their stance on Stem Cell research, as it will and must proceed and if American scientists are not free to pursue it, others will.  I am convinced that economy is stronger, and hence keeps attracting Asian governments to our Treasuries, despite the recent pronouncements of the S Koreans , because of the tax cuts.  The  enormous deficit will prevent any movement on Social Security for the near term, though it wouldn't be a bad idea to raise the level on existing IRAs.  Bush is very opposed to raising taxes, thus no SS change for the present.  I would like to say that Gay Marriage is an issue for any social liberal, but frankly, after much soul searching, I am opposed.  Why?  It is far too radical an idea consitutuionally.
       Sometimes things should come into being through the back door, slowly, and incrementally.  The Gay population are vociferous but they do not represent anyone but  themselves.  The rights they demand can be provided by legislation on legal cohabiting partnerships, ie a redefinition of living arrangements that non Gays choose as well.  The Democrats hold them selves hostage every time they go too far left.  What on earth can Howard Dean bring to the table but more divisions and finger pointing. 
        Okay, so where am I.  A fiscal conservative, aftraid of the diminishing value of the dollar,  a social progressive who places some value on the lives of those who are less fortunate, with perhaps the misguided hope that their lives can be improved.  We all read the same Bible and are concerned for the halt and the lame, the meek and the mild, and most of us would like to inherit the earth, if we can be bothered not to despoil it.  At this stage I don't trust too many people to make the right choices for any of us.  Judge Scalia is a traditionalist.  And for  only that, I respect his approach.  Yours in confusion. Kaaren  PS  Amanda is getting very close to a decision on Faisel.  It will be interesting how this plays. [Richard J. Garfunkel] 
LA Reich answer's on Scalia

Blaming Earl Warren for the interpretative evolving essence of the

Constitution? Antonin, the duck hunting Italian, disparages the

contributions of John Marshall, who served with Washington in the Virginia

militia, wrote his first biography and even penned a chapter entitled “The

Birth of Mr. Washington” as well as served in the Virginia House of Burgess.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, probably the greatest jurist to sit on the court

after Joseph Story, was wounded three times at Antietam, Balls Bluff and

Chancerlorville in the Civil War, and had the intellectual fortitude to

reframe and transform his positions on free speech during war time after

encountering the great appellate judge Learned Hand (probably two of the

most intellectual forces in American jurisprudence)on a train to upstate NY

(Hand idolized Holmes, yet he disagreed with his opinion in Debs, and was

willing to share that with the most revered legal philosopher in the land.

Within a short time of that meeting Holmes issued his most famous dissent in

Abrams. Holmes' house in Washington was filled with social and intellectual

visitors who surveyed the concepts and spirtit which captured this

democracy. That Scalia can can offer criticism for justices who stray from

their black robes into the fabric of society, reveals the vast wasteland

from which his own intellect holds center stage.


Scalia Slams Juvenile Death Penalty Ruling

Mon Mar 14, 7:53 PM ET

By HOPE YEN, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON – Justice Antonin Scalia criticized the Supreme Court's recent

decision to strike down the juvenile death penalty, calling it the latest

example of politics on the court that has made judicial nominations an

increasingly bitter process.

In a 35-minute speech Monday, Scalia said unelected judges have no place

deciding issues such as abortion and the death penalty. The court's 5-4

ruling March 1 to outlaw the juvenile death penalty based on “evolving

notions of decency” was simply a mask for the personal policy preferences of

the five-member majority, he said.

“If you think aficionados of a living Constitution want to bring you

flexibility, think again,” Scalia told an audience at the Woodrow Wilson

Center, a Washington think tank. “You think the death penalty is a good

idea? Persuade your fellow citizens to adopt it. You want a right to

abortion? Persuade your fellow citizens and enact it. That's flexibility.”

“Why in the world would you have it interpreted by nine lawyers?” he said.

Scalia, who has been mentioned as a possible chief justice nominee should

Chief Justice William Rehnquist retire, outlined his judicial philosophy of

interpreting the Constitution according to its text, as understood at the

time it was adopted.

Citing the example of abortion, he said unelected justices too often choose

to read new rights into the Constitution, at the expense of the democratic


“Abortion is off the democratic stage. Prohibiting it is unconstitutional,

now and forever, coast to coast, until I guess we amend the Constitution,”

said Scalia, who was appointed to the court by President Reagan in 1986.

He blamed Chief Justice Earl Warren, who presided from 1953-69 over a court

that assaulted racial segregation and expanded individual rights against

arbitrary government searches, for the increased political role of the

Supreme Court, citing Warren's political background. Warren was governor of

California and the Republican vice presidential nominee in 1948.

“You have a chief justice who was a governor, a policy-maker, who approached

the law with that frame of mind. Once you have a leader with that mentality,

it's hard not to follow,” Scalia said, in response to a question from the


Scalia said increased politics on the court will create a bitter nomination

fight for the next Supreme Court appointee, since judges are now more

concerned with promoting their personal policy preferences rather than

interpreting the law.

“If we're picking people to draw out of their own conscience and experience

a 'new' Constitution, we should not look principally for good lawyers. We

should look to people who agree with us,” he said, explaining that's why

senators increasingly probe nominees for their personal views on positions

such as abortion.

“When we are in that mode, you realize we have rendered the Constitution

useless,” Scalia said.

Scalia, who has had a prickly relationship with the media, wasted no time in

shooing away photographers from the public event five minutes into his


“Could we stop the cameras? I thought I announced … a couple are fine at

first, but click click click click,” Scalia said, impatiently waving the

photographers off.

During a speech last year in Hattiesburg, Miss., a deputy federal marshal

demanded that an Associated Press reporter and another journalist erase

recordings of the justice's remarks.

The justice later apologized. The government conceded that the U.S. Marshals

Service violated federal law in the confrontation and said the reporters and

their employers were each entitled to $1,000 in damages and attorneys' fees.