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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Stuff I learned while looking up other stuff

Robert Downes - July 5th, 2007
There were more horror stories in the Detroit Free Press last week about the continuing meltdown at Northwest Airlines. Of course, this meltdown has been going on for about 20 years now, so it’s just more business as usual for the airline which is one of our chief flight links here in Northern Michigan.
One story was of a passenger who waited more than seven hours for a 60 mile flight from Detroit to Flint that was eventually cancelled.
And then there was the news that Northwest had canceled 825 flights in the space of a few days for lack of pilots and crews. Imagine all the vacations, business trips and long-awaited family visits up in smoke.
The usual suspects? Northwest’s management can’t get it together to make their employees happy. Pilots and crews are calling in sick. Jets are developing mysterious maintenance problems. No one can manage to pull a ramp up to the jets, or open the door from the outside to free the passengers.
One lawyer suggested last week that passengers consider suing the airlines for “unlawful imprisonment” if they are held on a plane for longer than two hours. This in the wake of a news story about a planeful of passengers who were held on a runway in sweltering heat on a Comair flight for four hours.
But who can blame the employees of Northwest for dragging their feet when they’re handed such an obscenely raw deal by their management? According to the Free Press, Northwest employees were asked to give up $623 million in annual concessions. Meanwhile, according to the Free Press, the airline gave “$297 million in shares to CEO Doug Steenland and other high-ranking officials.” PLUS a $26 million bonus to Steenland when Northwest was freed from bankruptcy in May.
Wealthy conservatives in the media often warn that Americans should never get involved in “class warfare,” as if this would be the worst thing possible. Yeah, for our country’s insanely compensated CEOs, that’s true. But the truth is, we are in a state of class warfare right here, right now with the cavalier abuse of American workers and their disposal.
When the average Standard & Poors 500 Index company CEO makes $14.8 million per year; 430 times the pay of the average production worker, that‘s an ugly trend that needs addressing.
There was a similar time in American history. In the early 20th century, farmers, miners and industrial workers got so fed up with being pushed around by the CEOs of their day that they threatened a socialist revolution. Anti-trust reform by leaders such as Teddy Roosevelt ended some of the exploitive business practices of that time, giving rise to the give-and-take negotiations of labor unions, rather than socialism.
But now the old union safety valve is in serious disrepair. We need similar reform of economic inequality in America today before planes start falling out of the sky, or worse.

So long, torture porn...?
It looks like the horror film genre known as “torture porn” may have croaked its final scream... for now.
“Hostel II,” about a group of young women who are kidnapped and tortured for fun by evil Europeans, has been a bomb at the box office, indicating that teens who get their jollies watching films like the “Saw” series are starting to get bored with torture. Imagine.
In a whiny blog posting, “Hostel II” director Eli Roth claimed ‘twas Internet pirates who made his sick film a flop. He made a plea for folks to do their part to support more films about mutilation and torture: “... right now the R-rated horror film is in serious jeopardy,” Roth said, adding that as a result, he’s decided to scuttle another torture porn flick, “Cell.”
Oh, get over it. Mr. Roth should spend time sawing off one of his fingers to atone for his failure as a human being.
Elsewhere, the LA Weekly reports that a new sadistic video game, “Manhunt 2,” has been rejected by stores such as Target, Best Buy and Walmart. The game is about an amnesiac doctor and a psychotic killer who break out of a mental hospital and go on a sadistic killing spree with meat cleavers. Nice, huh? Anyway, the game’s rejection by retailers has been a disaster for the company, Take Two Software, which also produced the “Grand Theft Auto” games that glorified murder, drug-dealers, pimps and armed robbery. The company is in a tailspin.
Who says there’s no good news?

Speaking of the movies...
Read a good quote in the New York Times a few weeks ago about “Spider-Man 3.“ It went something along the lines of: “There‘s nothing duller than nonstop excitement.“
Amen to that, brutha‘. I‘m a sucker for the summer blockbusters, but this is the most brain-dead season in many a year.
Endless explosions, shoot-em-ups and karate fights have replaced characterization in the “big“ movies this summer, with more of the same promised in flicks like “Live Free or Die Hard.“
Suspense? It no longer exists. It‘s been killed off in the big budget films. If I know that Captain Jack is going to survive every preposterous situation that brews up every 30 seconds in the “Pirates“ series, why should I care about him as a character? He‘s more like Gumby.
After two hours of the “non-stop excitement“ of “Pirates of the Caribbean,“ I was yawning widely, wondering when the jackhammer ride would be over.
I‘m looking forward to “Sicko“ because it‘s got something most films seem to lack: a sense of reality, with real people facing real problems.
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