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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Balance of Power Walks a Taut Tightrope on the Issue of Gun Control

Nancy Sundstrom - December 18th, 2003
Richard North Patterson is one of the most popular and resourceful writers around when it comes to marrying the realities of special interest, insider politics in Washington with nail-biting plots loaded with suspense and intrigue. Of his 11 novels, there have been seven consecutive international bestsellers, and his most recent, “Protect and Defend,“ was compared to landmarks in the genre, such as Allen Drury‘s “Advise and Consent“ and Gore Vidal‘s “Lincoln.“
A former trial lawyer, Patterson has turned to the never-hotter issue of gun control for his latest outing, “Balance of Power,“ and the result is a knockout. The praise on the back cover announces as much, with former President Clinton calling it a “must read for anyone interested in the gun debate,“ Senator Edward Kennedy praising Patterson‘s “extraordinary insight into how Washington works, and a complex and heartfelt understanding of the effects of gun violence on our society,“ and fellow writer Scott Turow declaring it a “compelling story, fully worthy of Richard North Patterson, which is made even more intriguing by its detailed insight into the world of special-interests politics in Washington, D.C.“
So what has Patterson done to top himself with this one?
For starters, he‘s brought back his longtime hero Kerry Kilcannon, who has been President for about one year and is now planning his marriage to former television journalist Lara Costello. Lara‘s sister, Joan, is regularly abused by her husband, John Bowden, giving Kilcannon and Lara a very personal and frightening perspective on the issues of domestic violence and ownership and use of hand guns. In true Patterson style, he kicks off the story‘s opening with a dramatic event guaranteed to have the reader keep turning pages:

“Feeling the gun against the nape of her neck, Joan Bowden froze. Her consciousness narrowed to the weapon she could not see: her vision barely registered the cramped living room, the images on her television -- the President and his fiancee, opening the Fourth of July gala beneath the towering obelisk of the Washington Monument. She could feel John‘s rage through the cold metal on her skin, smell the liquor on his breath.
“Why?“ she whispered.
“You wanted him.“ He spoke in a dull, emphatic monotone.
Who? she wanted to ask. But she was too afraid; with a panic akin to madness, she mentally scanned the faces from the company cookout they had attended hours before. Perhaps Gary -- they had talked for a time.
Desperate, she answered, “I don‘t want anyone.“
She felt his hand twitch. “You don‘t want me. You have contempt for me.“
Abruptly, his tone had changed to a higher pitch, paranoid and accusatory, the prelude to the near hysteria which issued from some unfathomable recess of his brain. Two nights before, she had awakened, drenched with sweat, from the nightmare of her own death. Who would care for Marie?
Moments before, their daughter had sat at the kitchen table, a portrait of dark-haired intensity as she whispered to the doll for whom she daily set a place. Afraid to move, Joan strained to see the kitchen from the corner of her eye. John‘s remaining discipline was to wait until Marie had vanished; lately their daughter seemed to have developed a preternatural sense of impending violence which warned her to take flight. A silent minuet of abuse, binding daughter to father.
Marie and her doll were gone.
“Please,“ Joan begged. The cords of her neck throbbed with tension. The next moment could be fateful: she had learned that protest enraged him, passivity insulted him. Slowly, the barrel traced a line to the base of her neck, then pulled away. Joan‘s head bowed. Her body shivered with a spasm of escaping breath. She heard him move from behind the chair, felt him staring down at her. Fearful not to look at him, she forced herself to meet his gaze.
With an open palm, he slapped her. Her head snapped back, skull ringing. She felt blood trickling from her lower lip. John placed the gun to her mouth. Her husband. The joyful face from her wedding album, now dark-eyed and implacable, the 49ers T-shirt betraying the paunch on his too-thin frame.
Smiling grimly, John Bowden pulled the trigger. Recoiling, Joan cried out at the hollow metallic click. The sounds seemed to work a chemical change in him -- a psychic wound which widened his eyes. His mouth opened, as if to speak; then he turned, staggering, and reeled toward their bedroom.
Slumping forward, Joan covered her face. Soon he would pass out. She would be safe then; in the morning, before he left, she would endure his silence, the aftershock of his brutality and shame. At least Marie knew only the silence.“

Kilcannon and Lara help Joan escape from the unending abuse she faces, something that has terrible repercussions. Just after their wedding, Bosden shoots and kills Joan, daughter Marie, and Joan and Lara‘s mother, Inez. Everyone is horrified and devastated, but Kilcannon lets his emotions interfere when he decides to tackle the gun industry and the Second Amendment in the form of a powerful lobby group known as the Sons of the Second Amendment (SSA).
Things get even more complicated when another of Lara‘s sisters, Mary, sues both a gun company and the SSA, even as Kilcannon tries to defeat a bill the SSA is trying to push through the Senate and the House protecting gun companies from lawsuits such as this. When Kilcannon‚s relentless rival, Senate Majority Leader Frank Fasano, gets involved, the SSA has the momentum it needs to declare all-out war on the President, using any means in its well-stocked arsenal. Defeat is not an option for anyone, and the stakes raise as everyone lays claim to the words written in the Second Amendment regarding the right to bear arms.
The terrible toll of gun violence continues to loom over this country and while it‘s obvious that Patterson is a gun control advocate, it‘s less clear whether even an intelligent, well-researched and factually based thriller on the issue like this one will have any impact on opening eyes and changing the grim scenario that now currently exists for others like him.
This book is highly entertaining, certainly, but there is much more going on here than that, and if you‘re looking for a “popcorn read,“ you‘re going to be a bit disappointed, because this is somber, and anything but lightweight. The legalities of both sides of the gun control issue are presented here to give the reader a sophisticated look at one of the most hotly-contested issues around, and its clear that the author hopes his passion and presentation can contribute to America‚s ongoing education about our obsession with guns and seeming inability to control the worst from happening when it comes to them.

  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
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