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 · Letters · Letters 8/8/02
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Letters 8/8/02

Various - August 8th, 2002
Follow the oil: Cheney created war for profit
As more and more corporate accounting scandals emerge - the latest involving Vice President Dick Cheney during his watch as CEO of Halliburton Co. - an even bigger offense lurks in the shadows.
Perhaps the greatest crime committed here is by those who would play upon the highest sentiments of human beings for the basest of reasons. For this is often how wars get fought, and how the innocent and the courageous get killed by the thousands. To paraphrase “Deep Throat” - just “follow the oil.”

“I cannot think of a time when we have had a region emerge as suddenly to become as strategically significant as the Caspian.”
- Dick Cheney, CEO of Halliburton Oil Services Co.,1998 (now under a several million dollar domestic fraud investigation).

Cheney was referring to the largest new oil discovery on earth, in the region of... you guessed it... Afghanistan and its neighbors. By 2050, the U.S. expects to import more than 80 percent of its petroleum from this region, and much of that oil would be extracted from beneath the deserts of Afghanistan and Pakistan. As the CEO of Halliburton in 1998, Cheney was looking forward to the day when 50 million barrels of oil and natural gas would begin flowing into corporate hands via pipelines to U.S.-controlled terminals and ships in the Caspian sea. One small problem though. America’s nemesis Iran was the most direct pipeline route to get the oil out into U.S. hands.
“The Good Lord didn’t see fit to put oil and gas where there are democratically elected regimes... But we go where the business is,” Dick Cheney rationalized back then.
As CEO, Dick Cheney’s “profits over principles” leadership of Halliburton included lobbying against US human rights sanctions imposed on his key clients - Iraq, Libya, Nigeria, Indonesia, Iran and Azerbaijan. Halliburton routinely violated US trade sanctions to do business with Iran.
But with Congressional opposition and trade sanctions against Iran holding firm, an alternate scheme to get at the oil had to be devised.
“From the U.S. standpoint,” Brown University anthropologist William Beeman
observed, “the only way to deny Iran everything is for the anti-Iranian Taliban to win in Afghanistan and to agree to the pipeline through their territory.” That is exactly what happened - the Taliban did win the Afghan civil war - with a little help from the CIA.
Then, for awhile, the Taliban became Big Oil’s favorite sons. Taliban leaders were flown to Washington and Houston for lavish barbecues and put up in five-star hotels. In 1998 California-based energy giant UNICAL signed a deal with the Taliban to build a 890-mile pipeline from Turkmenistan to Pakistan, but the plan was thwarted by continuing civil war. UNICAL informed the U.S. Department of Energy that the gas pipeline would not proceed until “an internationally recognized government was in place in Afghanistan.”
And so events and people conspired to install a former UNICAL consultant, Hamid Karzai, as the new president of Afghanistan
today. And all the while bombs were falling and killing thousands for this strategic policy change (estimates are 5,000 innocent Afghan civilians were killed during our carpet bombing raids, and the bombs still fall today).
And all the while, someone was appealing to our higher sentiments to go to war “in defense of liberty and the American way.”
-Excerpts and information for this commentary were drawn from the Earth
Island Journal, Spring 2002, and from the work of award - winning investigative journalist John Pilger.

Jim Norgaard • Petoskey

In God We Trust
In their fabled “angry youth“ many persons take on the established religion as a bogus and false support system for the disenfranchised as well as the politically and socially motivated. This country was indeed founded upon basic religious principles exemplified in the freedom we now take for granted, albeit constantly challenged, in court and Congress. That there is hypocrisy in church affairs is quantitative. Apostasy is rampant. Science of some 300 years has absolutely led to the wonders of modern existence as compared to ecclesiastically-based agrarian cultures of the past.
There never was any so-called separation of church and state but only in rhetorical wording for sake of appearances of propriety in declaiming the European era prior to the takeover of America. That former Inquisition-led rule of life had evidently to be overridden in the founding of a new world, but kept its basic premise of a supreme being as that worthy of adhering to in morality and ethics. Slavery and indentured servitude aside, all races inherent to the early days of the states united had a strong base in religious matters. Religious right, liberal left, the silent majority, all have dealt with their own version of spirituality. Rationality, that philosophical vector garnered through Greek and Roman statesmen and lawgivers of old, began the basis for questioning a supreme being; this carried on down the ages through the various disclaimers of that posture, and landing squarely at the feet of lawyers of today who do indeed enjoy the freedoms of comfort and technology but also the choice of negating an adherence to obeisance toward a God unseen. The liberal left appears to be the bastion of disbelief in the supreme presence, though this was not so throughout the middle century but for the radicals who shouted in protest the loudest.
That money itself beclaims belief io God is seemingly enough of a proof of belief since otherwise the dollar and coinage would merely state In Money We Trust. And that may be true to some extent though a vote would need be taken without benefit of a Supreme Court overruling or tainted ballot box count. By all accounts the landslide belief in a supreme being would be the result of such nationwide ballot.
The Bill of Rights and portions of the original Constitution have already been undermined and superseded. To put the thoughts of omitting a God of love and compassion into the minds of children may be a refection of the decay in society we must deal with now. A belief in God, a supreme being, has often been a deterrent to truculent and guileful hegemony over others. The vengeful Allah of certain peoples might be a reaction to this declining of integrity in a people who still profess belief but do not quite live it. To rid the culture of the concept of God is to face the Brave New World of stratified homogeneity without benefit of a guiding force, unseen but felt by most.

Mitchell Jon MacKay • East Jordan

The candidates & tourism
I attended the recent final debate in Petoskey between Lt. Gov. Posthumus and Sen. Schwarz. A question addressed by the candidates related to the importance of tourism to Northern Michigan’s economy, and what was their plans to stimulate tourism and restore Michigan as a national leader in the industry. As the second largest industry in the state, it seems tourism deserves more respect than either candidate was willing to give it.
I was very disappointed in their answers. Both alluded to their plans to improve our roads, which seemed like their major solution. While good roads are very important, better roads will not entice people to vacation in Michigan. Both referred to Public Act 59 (establishment of Convention & Visitors Bureaus by local lodging assessments) as the “cornerstone” of promotion and advertising for the industry in Michigan.
Many small communities in Michigan have been eliminated from inclusion in state and local programs and promotions because they are not affiliated with a CVB. These small chambers of commerce are left on their own with very little resources. Also, many CVB’s compete with each other for the same tourist dollar rather than working together to promote and stimulate new travel and broaden the market.
Sen. Schwarz did mention the poor condition of our public parks and camp grounds, and the need to restore some funding and staff so the DNR could address that problem. It’s true that the politicization and cut backs in the DNR have had an adverse effect on tourism (including the clear cutting of State forest land without consideration for tourism interests), and this should be addressed.
No mention was made of the fact that Travel Michigan, the State’s official tourism promotion office, has undergone cuts in funding and personnel plus the elimination of many effective programs over the past 10 years. Travel Michigan will soon be losing more dedicated, knowledgeable personnel to the Engler early retirement initiative. Despite unprecedented prosperity during this period, Michigan has only seen a token 2-3% annual increase in tourism. At the same time, adjacent states have increased their promotional budgets and shown impressive tourism growth.
Tourism creates jobs and reduces unemployment. The sales taxes, business taxes, gasoline taxes and personal income taxes generated directly impact local and state revenues. A renewed aggressive approach to marketing and promoting travel in Michigan is necessary before more damage is done. During this time of economic slow-down, it will be especially difficult to recover what we have lost, but an investment in tourism will pay terrific dividends as tourist related businesses do well and cycle new dollars throughout the State economy. We need to help tourist related businesses hire at capacity and extend their seasons.
I feel confident that a Democratic governor would work to restore Michigan to it’s status as a model in tourist promotions nationwide. I get the feeling Mr. Posthumus or Sen. Schwarz would continue the Engler approach and let us slip further behind in tourism.
At a previous presentation in Petoskey on the upcoming election by Bob Labrant of the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, he credited Gov. Engler with the prosperity of the business community in Michigan the past 12 years. Mr. Labrant must not consider tourism a vital component of Michigan’s economy. While many large businesses and corporations have done well, it’s debatable whether many tourist related businesses have thrived despite the unprecedented prosperity during most of that period. This is especially true in Northern Michigan which is heavily dependent on tourism.
With the current economic climate in the United States, Michigan’s tourist economy is especially suffering. The lack of support and tourism promotion on the state level has affected many small and seasonal businesses, especially in Northern Michigan. The Michigan Chamber of Commerce would do well to factor that into the equation before giving John Engler such high marks.

Joe Breidenstein • Walloon Lake
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