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..

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Random Thoughts

Robert Downes - April 1st, 2004
The Hearings

Like many Americans, I sat agog watching the 911 hearings on television last week and the revelations of former counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke.
The hearings have given me a new faith in the political process and the American spirit precisely because what we‘re seeing is a number of prominent Republicans such as Clarke ripping what he calls the “big lie“ charade from the Bush administration.
These are Republicans who care more about protecting America than they do about sucking up to a president who seems to be a loose cannon on par with the Johnny Depp character in “Pirates of the Caribbean.“
There‘s a ring of truth in Clarke‘s outrage when he says that he tried to get President Bush and his staff to respond to pleas for action against al Queda in early 2001. Instead, the Bush administration dithered around with a lack of interest in terrorism until it was too late and then kicked up a world-wide hornet‘s nest with its misguided war in Iraq. As Clarke said on 60 Minutes, what Bush did with Iraq would have been like President Franklin D. Roosevelt declaring war on Mexico after Pearl Harbor.
Clarke‘s story is collaborated by former Treasury Secretary Paul O‘Neill, whose own book states that President Bush was obsessed with attacking Iraq from day one of his administration.
These aren‘t Democrats or liberals making these charges. They‘re registered Republicans who‘ve seen a presidency so misguided that they felt a need to speak out on behalf of the American people.
That should make them heroes, putting their country above the politics of a president whose foreign policy has alienated our allies and made America Target Number One for every terrorist kook shaking loose in the world.
These days, the sharpest rebukes of President Bush are coming from noted Republicans on par with Sen. John McCain.
Besides Clarke and O‘Neill, there‘s a new book by John Dean called “Worse than Watergate: The Secret Presidency of George W. Bush.“ Dean, a Republican, is the former counsel to the Nixon White House. He claims that Bush, Cheney & Co. are more dangerously secretive than Tricky Dick ever was. And he ought to know, being the man who famously warned Nixon during the Watergate scandal of the “cancer in his presidency.“
Then there‘s “American Dynasty“ by Kevin Phillips, a former Republican strategist for the Reagan and Bush, Sr. presidencies who writes about the “Politics of Deceit in the House of Bush.“ It‘s an encylopedia of shady deals made by the Bush family with oil companies, arms dealers, Saudi princes and war profiteering corporations.
Again, written by a former Republican White House insider.
But the worst may be yet to come, because in its wisdom, the Bush re-election campaign has chosen New York City as the site of its convention this summer, and by that time the air of that Democratic city should be whizzing with tracer bullets of anger over 911.
By that time, it‘s expected that Michael Moore will have his new film out, “Fahrenheit 911,“ about the ties between the Bush family, Saudi Arabia, and the resulting blunders which have turned much of the world against America. The film could set the stage for making the New York City convention as memorable a disaster for Bush as Monica Lewinski was for President Clinson.
Speaking of which, it’s ironic but no surprise to see conservatives, the self-appointed champions of personal responsibility, scrambling to pile the blame for 911 on the Clinton administration. Clinton has become the all-purpose voodoo doll and blame-all for those scheming to plunder Social Security and Medicare in the name of enforcing personal responsibility on everyone but themselves.
It was Harry Truman -- a Democrat -- who had a sign on his desk stating “The Buck Stops Here.“ Apparently, that sign got lost when George W. Bush moved into the White House.

One Year Later
On the other hand, one year after Iraq fell, only history‘s reflection many years down the road is going to tell whether the war was a disaster or the best idea ever.
The idea by neoconservative E-Z chair warriors was to vaccinate the Mideast with a successful democracy in Iraq. Other Arab states would see how well things were going in Iraq and democracy would spread through the Islamic world.
That was the intended storybook ending. Yet at this point, we don‘t know whether Iraq is spiraling into civil war, or if it will go the way of an Islamic theocracy like Iran, our other great social experiment disaster from the Carter administration.
As in the beginning of the war a year ago, Americans still want it both ways in Iraq. We‘re happy that 26 million people have been freed from a tyrant and that there will be no more mass graves or torture chambers; but we‘re unhappy with the idea of thousands of dead or wounded U.S. soldiers and Iraqi citizens.
In retrospect, going to war in Iraq was like slapping an Arab child in the hope that he‘d behave better. A full-blown beating, actually. Is that usually a good policy with a good outcome?
Or could we have used a softer strategy? Such as the soft invasion of culture to disarm Muslum extremism among young Arabs with the music of Britney Spears, American TV shows, and McDonald‘s... accompanied by a Marshall Plan-style jobs initiative to help Arabs pull themselves out of their medieval funk.
That was the road not taken.
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