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 · Books · Men of Words
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Men of Words

Nancy Sundstrom - February 28th, 2002
If you love the written word, then it‘s a fair assumption that you‘re likely to be a fan of authors, as well. That being said, there are several stunning new works on available on three important contributors to American literature, and all are highly recommended.
Richard Wright: The Life and Times by Hazel Rowley, “Dashiell Hammett: A Daughter Remembers“ by Jo Hammett, Richard Layman, and Julie M. Rivett, and “Mark Twain: An Illustrated Biography“ by Geoffrey C. Ward, Dayton Duncan, and Ken Burns all serve up their subjects on a platter rich with scope, detail, elegant writing, and plenty of surprises. Rowley‘s book on Wright, in particular, virtually defines what a biography should be, but across the board, each celebrates the business of words and ideas, while providing valuable insights into three extraordinarily fertile minds.

Richard Wright: The Life and Times by Hazel Rowley
“How in hell did you happen?“ a Chicago sociologist once inquired of Richard Wright, the novelist who posed, through his work, some of the most profound questions ever raised in America about the volatile nature of race relations. Well, the answer is found in exquisite and painstaking detail in Rowley‘s engrossing biography, which emerges as dramatic and impressive as Wright was.
From the beginning, he was an outsider who never fit in, and through his turbulent life until his death in 1960, he was a fiercely independent man and thinker who pursued writing as a means to independence. Born in Mississippi in 1908, the grandson of former slaves, Wright spent his formative years doing menial labor and enduring prejudice, events that were to shape his writing later in acclaimed works like “Native Son,“ “The Outsider,“ scores of essays and articles, and a revealing autobiography entitled “Black Boy.“
A man of paradox and contradictions, his books earned him both popular and critical regard, as well as a comfortable income, though his leanings were Communist, something for which he was denounced from the floor of the United States Senate. He was even accused of anti-Americanism and suspected of spying for the Russians, which resulted in his books being banned in a number of U.S. cities and states. Wright married a white woman and had two children with her, though he had a number of complex relationships with other women and rumors flew about his homosexuality. Eventually unable to cope with the hypocrisy of his homeland, he became an ex-pat in France, where he is buried.
Rowley pulled from an incredible wealth of archival material, largely available because “Wright kept everything--drafts of manuscripts, letters, photographs, hotel bills, newspaper cuttings.“ It all contributes to this fine and factual account of a man driven to affect change, even at a high personal cost.

Dashiell Hammett: A Daughter Remembers“ by Jo Hammett, Richard Layman, and Julie M. Rivett
This fairly short, but very moving memoir sheds a great deal of personal light on a man who was as enigmatic as he was talented. Hammett, the author of “The Maltese Falcon“ and “The Thin Man,“ has been best documented over the years through the writings of his longtime companion, author and playwright Lillian Hellman, and in the 1976 movie, “Julia,“ where Jason Robards won a Best Supporting Actor award for his portrayal of the writer. Still, his personal life has remained somewhat elusive to the general public.
Now, a little more than forty years since his death, Hammett‘s daughter, Josephine, has compiled a candid and admiring tome that doesn‘t shrink away from the flaws of her famous father. Her memories create a portrait of a man who had a significant impact on contemporary crime fiction, yet described himself as “as bad an influence on American literature as anyone I can think of.“
Both traditional and uncompromising, Hammett separated from his wife while his children were young and took up with Hellman, who played a very important role in his life. He stopped writing after his early successes, and ended his love affair with alcohol far later. In the meantime, he volunteered for WWII, was blacklisted and then imprisoned during the HUAC era, and hung with elites of the film and literary worlds.
He was a guarded, private man whose self-doubt and ability to torture himself ran deep, but to his daughter, he was a father. Whether she is recalling trips to the racetrack in a limousine during the Depression or summers with him and Hellman, this is a tale that spans several decades and gives us the most intimate look at Hammett to date. Putting the icing on the cake is a wonderful collection of never-before-seen photographs from family archives.

Mark Twain: An Illustrated Biography by Geoffrey C. Ward, Dayton Duncan, and Ken Burns
This beautiful and lavishly illustrated companion book to the four-hour PBS series on Twain (Samuel Clemens), one of the country‘s most treasured and timeless authors, bursts at the seams with all things Twain, and what a joy that is.
An eloquent, but to-the-point narrative ties together extensive Twain quotations, rare photographs, passages from correspondence that include love letters to his wife and a heartbreaking reflection on the death of a beloved daughter, contributions from admirers such as actor Hal Holbrook and writer Russell Banks, well-known works like “The War Prayer,“ and much, much more. All of the threads of this rich tapestry reinforce how greatly Twain has impacted our cultural and political landscape.
Humor abounds, but so do controversy, frankness, poignancy, and sharp edges. Twain said that “The secret source of humor itself is not joy but sorrow. There is no humor in heaven,“ and that tenor flows through the book, giving it just the right balance between Twain‘s public and private personas. Burns has become a celebrated documentarian, and Ward and Duncan are frequent partners in crime, having all partnered on “The Civil War,“ “Baseball,“ and “Jazz“ series. In focusing their attention on the first figure of American letters through the documentary and the book, they have created a deserving tribute to a gifted writer, humorist, and lecturer who, as Banks so aptly puts it here, made possible “an American literature which would otherwise not have been possible.“
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