Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Herb Kohl: a guy who'll offer you a glass of water on a cold day

I wrote Herb Kohl a cordial and encouraging letter about why I thought he should join the growing numbers of Senators and Representatives backing bills to lift the Cuba travel ban for all Americans. I referenced Senate Bill 428, which already has 32 Senate co-sponsors.

On Mon, Oct 5, 2009 at 8:59 AM, Senator Kohl wrote:
"As you may know, the U.S. has imposed a travel and economic embargo on Cuba since 1958 in response to Cuban President Fidel Castro's refusal to democratize and demonstrate greater appreciation for human rights. In light of President Fidel Castro's decision to step down, there has been some discussion on reviewing U.S. foreign policy toward Cuba.

"I understand your concerns about possible changes to U.S.-Cuba relations included in the recent Omnibus Appropriations Act of 2009. Section 620 of the Omnibus Appropriations Act amended the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act of 2000. This amendment would authorize changes for travel relating to commercial sales of agricultural and medical goods. However, the Obama administration has stated that they will disregard the amendment pending a further review of the embargo against Cuba.

"I assure you that there have been no significant changes to U.S. foreign policy related to Cuba. In the future, any changes in our relationship with Cuba will be made by the Obama administration with consultation from the U.S. Senate.

"Please know that I will keep your thoughts in mind should the topic be debated during the 111th Congress."

Sincerely,

Herb Kohl
United States Senator


I replied:

Senator Kohl:

This response is an insult.

Your first sentence includes: "...the U.S. has imposed a travel and economic embargo on Cuba since 1958 in response to Cuban President Fidel Castro's refusal to democratize and demonstrate greater appreciation for human rights". Ignorant.

Why would you send me this kind of half-baked nonsense? In 1958, Fulgencio Batista was the thug "leader" of Cuba; he didn't give a damn about democratizing. He was a murderous, thieving pal of gangsters and of the American government. The travel ban and embargo were imposed years later, along with a four-decades-long program of CIA interference in Cuban affairs, including many attempts to assassinate Cuban leaders.

I asked you about your view of sponsorship of Senate Bill 428. You wrote back about Section 620 of the Omnibus Appropriations Bill. Unresponsive. Head fakes work under the basket, not in Congress.

We send you to Congress to work. We expect you to hire competent people who are able to read a letter and respond with something other than this uninformed, non-responsive "bedbug" letter. I've received letters like this one over your signature in the past: Vaguely in the same neighborhood of the subject, but non-committal, something for everyone.

Will you please have your staff return to my original letter, read it carefully and get me a responsive reply.

This whole business of sending form letters in response to real questions is--as I said--an insult to those of us who are up-to-date on the issues and ask pointed, well-informed questions.

Please, respond with real information.


A constituent, a voter...

Jim Bouman
Waukesha

1 comment:

Zach W. said...

Nicely done, Jim.

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Of the biblical allotment of three score and ten I have lived only three of them more than a bicycle ride from one of the Great Lakes. I grew up ten blocks from Lake Erie in the (once Irish/Italian ghetto, now newly-hip) "Near West Side" of Cleveland. I can still cycle to the Milwaukee lakefront in an hour and a half; but, a round-trip has always been more than I would (noror ever did) attempt. -0- I'm a "...somewhat combative pacifist and fairly cooperative anarchist," after the example of Grace Paley (1922-2007). -0- I'm always cheerful when I pay my taxes (having refused--when necessary--to pay that portion of them dedicated to war). -0- And I always, always vote.