Letters 10-24-2016

It’s Obama’s 1984 Several editions ago I concluded a short letter to the editor with an ominous rhetorical flourish: “Welcome to George Orwell’s 1984 and the grand opening of the Federal Department of Truth!” At the time I am sure most of the readers laughed off my comments as right-wing hyperbole. Shame on you for doubting me...

Gun Bans Don’t Work It is said that mass violence only happens in the USA. A lone gunman in a rubber boat, drifted ashore at a popular resort in Tunisia and randomly shot and killed 38 mostly British and Irish tourists. Tunisian gun laws, which are among the most restrictive in the world, didn’t stop this mass slaughter. And in January 2015, two armed men killed 11 and wounded 11 others in an attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. French gun laws didn’t stop these assassins...

Scripps’ Good Deed No good deed shall go unpunished! When Dan Scripps was the 101st District State Representative, he introduced legislation to prevent corporations from contaminating (e.g. fracking) or depleting (e.g. Nestle) Michigan’s water table for corporate profit. There are no property lines in the water table, and many of us depend on private wells for abundant, safe, clean water. In the subsequent election, Dan’s opponents ran a negative campaign almost solely on the misrepresentation that Dan’s good deed was a government takeover of your private water well...

Political Definitions As the time to vote draws near it’s a good time to check into what you stand for. According to Dictionary.com the meanings for liberal and conservative are as follows:

Liberal: Favorable to progress or reform as in political or religious affairs.

Conservative: Disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc., or to restore traditions and limit change...

Voting Takes A Month? Hurricane Matthew hit the Florida coast Oct. 6, over three weeks before Election Day. Bob Ross (Oct. 17th issue) posits that perhaps evacuation orders from Governor Scott may have had political motivations to diminish turnout and seems to praise Hillary Clinton’s call for Gov. Scott to extend Florida’s voter registration deadline due to evacuations...

Clinton Foundation Facts Does the Clinton Foundation really spend a mere 10 percent (per Mike Pence) or 20 percent (per Reince Priebus) of its money on charity? Not true. Charity Watch gives it an A rating (the same as it gives the NRA Foundation) and says it spends 88 percent on charitable causes, and 12 percent on overhead. Here is the source of the misunderstanding: The Foundation does give only a small percentage of its money to charitable organizations, but it spends far more money directly running a number of programs...

America Needs Change Trump supports our constitution, will appoint judges that will keep our freedoms safe. He supports the partial-birth ban; Hillary voted against it. Regardless of how you feel about Trump, critical issues are at stake. Trump will increase national security, monitor refugee admissions, endorse our vital military forces while fighting ISIS. Vice-presidential candidate Mike Pence will be an intelligent asset for the country. Hillary wants open borders, increased government regulation, and more demilitarization at a time when we need strong military defenses...

My Process For No I will be voting “no” on Prop 3 because I am supportive of the process that is in place to review and approve developments. I was on the Traverse City Planning Commission in the 1990s and gained an appreciation for all of the work that goes into a review. The staff reviews the project and makes a recommendation. The developer then makes a presentation, and fellow commissioners and the public can ask questions and make comments. By the end of the process, I knew how to vote for a project, up or down. This process then repeats itself at the City Commission...

Regarding Your Postcard If you received a “Vote No” postcard from StandUp TC, don’t believe their lies. Prop 3 is not illegal. It won’t cost city taxpayers thousands of dollars in legal bills or special elections. Prop 3 is about protecting our downtown -- not Munson, NMC or the Commons -- from a future of ugly skyscrapers that will diminish the very character of our downtown...

Vote Yes It has been suggested that a recall or re-election of current city staff and Traverse City Commission would work better than Prop 3. I disagree. A recall campaign is the most divisive, costly type of election possible. Prop 3, when passed, will allow all city residents an opportunity to vote on any proposed development over 60 feet tall at no cost to the taxpayer...

Yes Vote Explained A “yes” vote on Prop 3 will give Traverse City the right to vote on developments over 60 feet high. It doesn’t require votes on every future building, as incorrectly stated by a previous letter writer. If referendums are held during general elections, taxpayers pay nothing...

Beware Trump When the country you love have have served for 33 years is threatened, you have an obligation and a duty to speak out. Now is the time for all Americans to speak out against a possible Donald Trump presidency. During the past year Trump has been exposed as a pathological liar, a demagogue and a person who is totally unfit to assume the presidency of our already great country...

Picture Worth 1,000 Words Nobody disagrees with the need for affordable housing or that a certain level of density is dollar smart for TC. The issue is the proposed solution. If you haven’t already seen the architect’s rendition for the site, please Google “Pine Street Development Traverse City”...

Living Wage, Not Tall Buildings Our community deserves better than the StandUp TC “vote no” arguments. They are not truthful. Their yard signs say: “More Housing. Less Red Tape. Vote like you want your kids to live here.” The truth: More housing, but for whom? At what price..

Home · Articles · News · Other Opinions · Taking the pledge
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Taking the pledge

Stephen Tuttle - July 25th, 2011
Taking the Pledge
Republicans, especially presidential candidates, are on the verge of being
inundated with pledges. Not to the Constitution or their constituents
because that would actually make some sense. No, they are now expected to
sign on to a number of special interest group pledges. Failure to do so
could result in a candidate being shunned by the very voters he or she
most needs.
There is a certain irony in all of this. Our Constitution includes the
specific language of the president’s oath of office but not for members of
Congress. It only requires that our Senators and Representatives “...
shall be bound by oath or affirmation...” to defend and protect that
remarkable document.
In 1789, Congress came up with a pretty good little oath; clean, simple
and straightforward: “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support
the Constitution of the United States.”
Alas, those 14 words lasted only about 75 years. After the Civil War a
new oath was conjured up, allegedly to protect us from those pesky
southerners and their traitorous northern brethren. And, of course, the
ubiquitous “so help me God” was added.
We now have plenty of oaths and pledges and none of them are especially
brief or elegant. The target for all of them seems to be Republicans who,
apparently, cannot be trusted unless they’ve signed some kind of pledge.
Special interest groups have always demanded a certain amount of loyalty
in exchange for their support. Nothing surprising or untoward about that.
But 2012 Republican presidential candidates are faced with more litmus
tests than a 6th grade science class.
For starters, there is the No New Taxes pledge of Grover Norquist and his
Americans for Tax Reform. This one is so old – it was first offered in
1986 – it’s practically an historical document in political terms. It
actually is simple; no new taxes, period.
So far, more than 230 Republican members of the House and 40 members of
the Senate have signed Norquist’s pledge. They aren’t raising taxes or
voting for any new taxes no matter what. It does sort of limit they way
in which they deal with the current budget mess and eliminates their
ability to become involved in any kind of rational budget discussions but,
hey, they signed a pledge.
As you would expect, there is also a Pro-Life Presidential Leadership
pledge. It is exactly what you’d guess; a promise to oppose abortions
under almost any circumstance and work to overturn Roe v. Wade. We’ve
heard both sides of this argument so many times over so many years we can
recite the entire debate by rote.
A new player in the pledge sweepstakes is something called the Cut, Cap
and Balance pledge. The idea is to cut the budget, create spending caps
that are actually enforceable and support a constitutional amendment that
requires the budget be balanced. The House has now passed cut, cap and
balance legislation but the Senate is incredibly unlikely to follow suit
and the president has already promised a veto in the unlikely event the
bill reaches his desk.
Far and away the most spectacular of the current pledges comes from a
newly minted special interest group in Iowa calling itself The Family
Leader. They’ve concocted a real dandy of a pledge, the “Declaration of
Dependence Upon Marriage and Family”, ostensibly to protect traditional
marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
That would have been simple enough as a standard anti-gay marriage
promise. But the Family Leader pledge contains 14 points. Among other
things, it requires support of “faithful constitutionalist” judges,
opposition to abortion, opposition to pornography, and in a delightful
bit of nonsense, opposition to Sharia law. Of course, there is no
Islamic Sharia law in our justice system, no one has suggested any such
thing, no such thing is even remotely possible but it’s a nice bit of
ugly Muslim-baiting by the conservative evangelicals who created this
Most of the time special interest groups have enough common sense to
realize they’ll need to do more than just threaten candidates who don’t
necessarily agree with every single thing they want. They lobby them,
talk to them, reason with them, attempt to persuade them. At least
that used to be the case. Not so much anymore.
Those who now offer up these pledges have a different approach – sign this
pledge or we will destroy you politically. It’s not neighborly or
especially productive.
We understand that Republicans now pledging away their independence must
“appeal to their base”. That means mostly conservative voters, especially
those identifying themselves as evangelicals, who tend to turn out for
primary elections in larger numbers than other Republican voters. Signing
all these pledges proves the candidate is serious about issues important
to those voters.
It also makes it difficult to appeal to Independents, cross-over Democrats
and other general election voters who may not agree with every word of
every pledge. Having pledged themselves into an ideological corner,
there’s no room for escape.
If elected, adherence to the pledges becomes even more nonsensical since
elected officials are supposed to represent all of us, not just those who
agree with their pledge-taking. Governing requires room for
give-and-take, not rigid adherence to the narrow visions of a narrow
segment of the electorate.
A better pledge might be this – I promise to behave like an adult, refrain
from insulting those with whom I don’t agree, tell the truth, try my best
to represent all the people in my district (or state or country), always
understand that I work for my constituents and not the other way around,
and believe the Constitution is a living document I will support, protect
and defend.

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