Letters 11-23-2015

Cheering From Petoskey While red-eyed rats boil fanatically up from the ancient sewers of Paris to feast on pools of French blood, at the G20 meeting the farcical pied piper of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue thrusts a bony finger at the president of the Russian Federation and yells: “liberté, égalité, fraternité, Clinton, Kerry--Obamaism!”

The Other Mothers And Fathers Regarding the very nice recent article on “The First Lady of Yoga,” I have taken many classes with Sandy Carden, and I consider her to be a great teacher. However, I feel the article is remiss to not even give acknowledgement to other very important yoga influences in northern Michigan...

Drop The Blue Angels The last time I went to the National Cherry Festival, I picked the wrong day. The Blue Angels were forcing everyone to duck and cover from the earsplitting cacophony overhead...

Real Advice For The Sick In the Nov. 16 article “Flu Fighters,” author Kristi Kates fails to mention the most basic tool in our arsenal during Influenza season... the flu vaccine! I understand you might be afraid of being the victim of Jenny McCarthyism, but the science is there...

Keeping Traverse City in the Dark Our environment is our greatest asset. It sustains our lives; it drives our economy. We ignore it at our peril. Northern Michigan Environmental Action Council (NMEAC) has submitted letters of concern to both the city commission and planning commission regarding the proposed 9-story buildings on Pine Street. We have requested an independent environmental assessment with clear answers before a land use permit is granted...

All About Them Another cartoon by Jen Sorensen that brings out the truth! Most of her cartoons are too slanted in a Socialist manner, but when she gets it correct, she hits the nail on the target! “Arizona is the first state to put a 12-month lifetime limit on welfare benefits.” That quote is in the opening panel... 

Unfair To County Employees It appears that the commissioners of Grand Traverse County will seek to remedy a shortfall in the 2016 budget by instituting cuts in expenditures, the most notable the reduction of contributions to various insurance benefits in place for county employees. As one example, the county’s contributions to health insurance premiums will decrease from ten to six percent in 2016. What this means, of course, is that if a county employee wishes to maintain coverage at the current level next year, the employee will have to come up with the difference...

Up, Not Out I would like to congratulate the Traverse City Planning Commission on their decision to approve the River West development. Traverse City will either grow up or grow out. For countless reasons, up is better than out. Or do we enjoy such things as traffic congestion and replacing wooded hillsides with hideous spectacles like the one behind Tom’s West Bay. At least that one is on the edge of town as opposed to in the formerly beautiful rolling meadows of Acme Township...

Lessons In Winning War I am saddened to hear the response of so many of legislators tasked with keeping our country safe. I listen and wonder if they know what “winning” this kind of conflict requires or even means? Did we win in Korea? Did we win in Vietnam? Are we winning in Afghanistan? How is Israel winning against the Palestinians? Will they “take out” Hezbollah...

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Random Thoughts

George Foster - May 13th, 2004
The stain on America

There is no way to sugarcoat it.
The film footage of U.S. military personnel mistreating Iraqi prisoners is indefensible, the worst and most ill-timed black eye against our country in history. Without weapons of mass destruction and connections to al Qaeda to justify our venture into Iraq, the “high, moral ground” was all we had left.
Did anyone else find it ironic that initial stories surrounding American Thomas Hamill’s escape from his terrorist abductors in Iraq are reporting that Hamill was treated well in captivity? I shudder to think of the consequences for future Americans abducted on the heels of film footage showing us humiliating and abusing Iraqis. Bottom line, Americans abroad are now more vulnerable to mistreatment, themselves.
Several investigations must take their course before we can come to any final conclusions. Regardless, the fallout from these abhorrent acts will affect our image and safety in the world for the rest of our lives. Heads had better roll from legitimate U.S. investigations into this scandal or the world will be justified in believing Americans don’t practice what they preach.
Some apologists have maintained, “Saddam Hussein murdered thousands of Iraqis in those same prisons, so where was the indignation when he abused Iraqis?” That may be true, but since when are our standards of behavior measured against criminal dictators? We should be outraged if only one incident of mistreatment had occurred.
It goes without saying, as our leaders continue to recite, the abuse and torture of prisoners is not what America is all about. We also know something else: don’t be blaming everything on ordinary soldiers. 99% of our military personnel are doing a great job under incredibly stressful circumstances. Such alleged abuse of prisoners can only be a result of a supervised and systematic policy to extract information from prisoners or even worse – to humiliate Iraqis because of cultural or religious differences.
How do we know mistreatment must have come from higher-ups on the chain of command? (1) Unrepentant prison personnel were brazenly laughing while being filmed with prisoners during abusive acts. (2) General Janis Karpinski, formerly in command of Baghdad’s Abu Ghurayb prison, pointed out that intelligence officers controlled the cell blocks where abusive acts against prisoners occurred during interrogation. (3) The sheer number of allegations presented to date from various prisons indicates that reported abuses weren’t isolated incidents. Up to 14 deaths of Iraqi prisoners are under investigation by some media accounts. Additionally, film footage of Iraqis being raped and murdered is rumored to exist.
This investigation will not stop with the court martial of six or seven foot soldiers without the taint of a cover-up. The real question is how high in the ranks does the responsibility for the abuse rise? There will be no G. Gordon Liddy or Oliver North to take the fall for superiors (no one is going to admit authorizing these kinds of barbarous acts unless true). Our democratic system does work - an independent investigation will find the person(s) most responsible the abuse. And, most likely, President Bush will fire Donald Rumsfeld by the time you have a chance to read this article.
Why Rumsfeld, you ask? After all, he didn’t torture anyone. As the Secretary of Defense, he is in charge of the Pentagon and must bear responsibility if unable to control subordinate commanders and the widespread criminal behavior of prison personnel. Ignorance is not an excuse.
If George Bush is the leader I think he is, at the very least he will promote an independent investigation and relieve the secretary of his military duties. The president needs to act boldly and promptly to show the rest of the world that abusive behavior against prisoners is inexcusable and those responsible will be held accountable for their actions.
By the time you read this, Rumsfeld will be history, the prison investigations will be driving at the truth, and we can move on toward regaining our respect as a nation. At least, I hope so.
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