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 · Features · Lunch with Michael Moore
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Lunch with Michael Moore

Express Staff - July 26th, 2007
The pros & cons
Lunch with
Director offers
insights on what
to expect at the
TC Film Festival
Lunch with Michael Moore tends to be a communal experience; every few minutes a bedazzled fan approaches his table to ask for his autograph or to offer cheers for his new film, “Sicko,” and for telling it like it is during the course of his legendary career.
Moore is riding high these days, buoyed by the success of “Sicko” and the fabulous reception the Traverse City Film Festival has had. The festival is now going into its third year. “We now have over 3,000 members of the Friends of the Traverse City Film Festival and that’s way beyond what we ever thought we’d have,” he says over a light lunch of tomato soup at L’Amical in downtown Traverse City.
Our lunch is the result of a phone call the Express got on a recent Thursday morning with the news that Moore was available within two hours for an interview. Staffers Robert Downes, Rick Coates, George Foster and Katie Huston scrambled to throw some questions together for the Oscar-winning director and resident of Torch Lake. Here’s what we came up with:
NE: How is “Sicko” doing at the box office?
Moore: I just found out that it was the fifth largest opening documentary of all time. My goal is to defeat “Bowling for Colombine.”
NE: (Commenting on Moore’s baseball cap) You wear a lot of hats putting on the Film Festival -- how many baseball caps do you own?
Moore: I have boxes filled with thousands that people have given me. I’ve got 18 years worth of hats since filming “Roger and Me.” I’ve started giving them away for charity and school auctions.
NE: What’s going to be the “sleeper” film hit of the festival this year?
Moore: It’s probably going to be the shortest film in the festival at 54 minutes. “Please Vote for Me” is about the first election ever held in a school in China. It’s all about these 10-year-old students who know nothing about democracy or America, but it doesn’t take long before their attack ads start. You see these 10-year-old kids backstabbing the way we do in politics here, and it’s both hilarious and frightening.
Also, “The Fever of ‘57,” is a documentary that I was surprised by. This October is the 50th anniversary of the launch of the Sputnik satellite by the Soviet Union. I always thought that people were scared by this event, but it turns out a lot of Americans watched the satellite from their front lawns and felt it was a step forward for man. It was only on the fourth day after launching that Lyndon B. Johnson went on TV and radio and said the satellite could have bombs and missiles on it. Within days, the public went to being terrified of it, and, ironically, it was Johnson and the Democrats who were responsible for this fear and paranoia.

NE: How do you pick the films for the festival?
Moore: I start in September and begin watching a new crop of films. I prefer to see them on the big screen because I think they play better there than on a TV set. I probably watch 160-170 for my selection of films. And Deb Lake (Film Festival coordinator) saw 60-700 at Tribeca and Sundance. Then there are the films I saw in Cannes. Between us, we probably saw 300 films last year.
NE: Do you ever feel that a film is too edgy for Northern Michigan?
Moore: I saw the early screenings of “Little Miss Sunshine” last year and made the mistake of being too cognizant of the ruckus from the first year of the festival (when a far-right group tried to wreck the event), so to that end, I thought that maybe the film was too edgy for Traverse City, but it turned out to be a big national hit. So now we just focus on finding the best films that we can and let that be our guide.
When we’re making a film selection, we have to decide: should we choose crowdpleasers or the absolute best films we can find? We’ve decided we should just show the best films, no matter where they’re from, like “Tuya’s Marriage,” which is set in Mongolia and won the ‘best film of the year’ at the Berlin Film Festival. I was approached to show something with some big Hollywood stars in it, but the film wasn’t that good.

NE: You’ve gotten great reviews for “Sicko” on Fox News (the conservative network frequently trashes Moore). Do you feel you’re less controversial now than in the past?
Moore: I got lucky -- it turns out I was right (on the war in Iraq) and I could have been wrong. I’m not a weapons inspector, but when I stood up on the Oscar stage four years ago and said there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, I didn’t know for sure, but I had a feeling.
NE: You went through a tough time for that.
Moore: “I went through a lot of verbal and physical assaults everywhere I went in the country and whenever I walked down the street. In Fort Lauderdale, a guy took the lid off his Starbucks cup and threw scalding coffee on me.
NE: There’s also the claim that some locals dumped manure in your driveway, with people bragging about it in the bars around Bellaire.
Moore: The day after the Oscars, someone left a load of crap four feet high. But people remember now that I was one of the few public persons who stood up and spoke the truth about a horrible war and being led into a quagmire. When I spoke out, only 20 percent of the people in the country agreed with what I was saying. Today, 70 percent of the people agree.
NE: Are you supporting Al Gore in 2008?
Moore: I’m not endorsing anyone now, but I am encouraging him to run because we need someone to lead the political debate. He’s been right about the war and has been concerned about global warming for decades. And he’s been right on about health issues.
NE: What should be the focus on health care in the next election?
Moore: We need to hear the candidates say that they’ll remove the profit aspect from health care. A doctor should never have to ask an insurance man if he can treat a patient.

NE: What about the latest controversy with CNN disputing some of the facts in “Sicko”? Are they just nitpicking?
Moore: The thing with the CNN people is they relied on some old figures they had from 2003 and 2004 to claim there were errors in my film. But I had two years of work into the film and used the latest 2006 and 2007 figures. They throw things up there so fast because they have to fill the news every 24 hours and they don’t have the research staff that I have.
For instance, I was offered the same file on George Bush’s National Guard service that brought down 60 Minutes and Dan Rather. Now, you’d think that Michael Moore would just run with that right away, like that would be red meat for me. Wrong. We needed back-up on this and another source. So, they went to Dan Rather instead and brought down CBS News.
My point is that I have a solid fact-checking staff. When the media tries to bring me down, it’s with some made-up issue, because they know they’d lose the debate otherwise.
Another example of the fact-checking my staff does was the time we heard that the bin Laden family had dinner with the Bush family (before 9/11). I said we needed a photo or another person to vouch for having had dinner with the Bushes and bin Ladens or it’s not going to be in the movie (“Fahrenheit 9/11”). No one could produce anything, so we didn’t include the story in the film.

NE: So, with even Fox News praising your new film, do you feel like you’re more accepted these days?
Moore: I think that critics just liked my film. But I’ve also tested the film with Republicans and found that it placed very well with them.
I have one story about a guy that runs the biggest anti-Michael Moore website on the Internet who was going to have to shut it down because he couldn’t pay his wife’s health care bills. I thought that was wrong that his First Amendment right to free speech was going to be harmed because of his family’s health care problems, so I sent him a check (anonymously) for $12,000 to pay for his health insurance for a year. I put that in the film and then called him up the day before it came out because I didn’t want him to be blindsided. We’re all Americans and we all have to find common ground -- we sink or swim together.
And 15 minutes after I called him, he put a message on his website thanking me. You don’t hear about that in the media -- me doing an act of Christian kindness -- because it conflicts with the image the media has made of me.
NE: Do you have personal conflicts with some of the films you show?
Moore: Yes, “I’m An American Soldier” is not an antiwar film, but I wouldn’t exclude a film because I disagree with it. One of my favorite films last year was “Thank You for Smoking,” based on a book by Christopher Buckley, who’s a Republican. I appreciate a good film and a good story no matter who’s behind it.
NE: Are your worried the U.S. Treasury Department is going to go after you for going to Cuba with the 9/11 rescue workers (for the filming of “Sicko”).
Moore: No, I sent an explanation and said basically to ‘take a hike.’ This will go to court in about a year and I expect to win. Plus, they’d have to go after the 9/11 rescue workers if they went after me.

NE: Where do you think the Film Festival will be 10 years from now?
Moore: Initially, we planned to show films in towns ranging from Northport to Petoskey, but after two years of this I’ve realized there’s something about having it in a small town with everybody walking between films and a sense of community and everybody talking about the films that we don’t want to lose. It’s why we go to films -- because we like to sit in a communal atmosphere in the dark and then talk about them.
I don’t think that growing something larger is necessarily better. We don’t want to contribute to sprawl in the area. The Film Festival has already put Traverse City on the map for people (movie stars and directors) who’d never come here otherwise and they’re already telling people -- my God, this is one of the best places in the country. We’ll have more of that every year -- it’s good for the local economy and good for young people in the area with something that everyone can afford.
If you go to Sundance, you’d see that over the years the film industry has taken over the town. You don’t want that here -- you want to keep the small town atmosphere, and that’s why independent filmmakers love it here. In terms of prestige, I’d say we’re already one of the top 10 film festivals in the country; I’ve got heads of studios calling me, asking if their new films can get in.
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