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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Opening Our Arms To Cuba

George Foster - March 10th, 2008
After almost 50 years of rigid communist rule, change is finally, finally coming to Cuba.
An eruption of modernization is imminent in the isolated Caribbean island, but not because Fidel Castro finally made his resignation official. Handing over presidential power to brother Raul Castro only ensures that Fidel’s strong-armed rule will continue to suffocate the Cuban people if the Castro clan has its way.
Change in Cuba is looming because of a steady transformation here in the USA. This is the case despite a trade embargo of goods and services against Cuba instituted by President Kennedy in 1962 and continuing through the present. This counterproductive policy has hammered ordinary Cubans already struggling to put food on the table under Castro’s state-controlled economy.
The average Cuban today earns under $20 a month. As tourism has steadily increased from Europe and Canada, a predictable proliferation of prostitution and begging on the city streets of Havana, Santiago, and Varadero has resulted. Many panhandlers preface their need for money by claiming their lives were more dignified before the revolution or until the Soviets pulled the plug on economic aid to Cuba. Most Cubans are not allowed to travel off the island or even enter hotels frequented by tourists.
Though food is already in short supply, President Bush decided that Cubans weren’t suffering enough from the trade embargo and Castro’s policies. In 2004 he decided to limit Americans from visiting relatives on the island to once every three years and paying loved ones there no more than $100 a month.
What are we thinking - refusing to have diplomatic relations with Cuba, a puny country that is zero threat to us militarily? We trade freely with other communist countries like China and even Vietnam, where nearly 60,000 Americans lost their lives. Venezuela’s president Hugo Chavez has called George W. Bush “the devil” in front of the United Nations, yet we buy gobs of oil from his country.
None of the three major candidates in the U.S. presidential race have advocated lifting the boycott against Cuba, but at least Barack Obama stated he would end limits on family visits and subsidies. The fact that Obama made such a statement in the Little Havana district of Miami is significant progress. Previously, our politicians have been loath to offend those Cuban-American voters whose only goal seems to be punishing Fidel Castro at the expense of the welfare of 11 million Cubans and the will of the our own people. Polls indicate that Americans overwhelmingly support reinstating diplomatic relations with Cuba.
A significant shift, though, is taking place in South Florida that threatens to turn the Cuban stalemate on its head. The three U.S. House of Representative districts in South Florida have been dominated for years by zealously anti-Castro Republicans of Cuban ancestry. Until recently, these three seats have seen little Democratic opposition and have influenced our nation’s policies well beyond what South Florida’s representation should dictate.
In the upcoming November election, three Democratic Cuban-Americans are running strongly in these districts, agreeing with Obama’s policy to end the restrictions on family travel and financial help to relatives in Cuba. Even the Latino population in South Florida is beginning to realize that the economic embargo of Cuba is never going to bring the Castro brothers to their knees. If any of the three Democrats win, there would be a prominent Cuban-American in Congress calling for the trade embargo to be eased for the first time in 50 years.
In the words of the late conservative icon, William F. Buckley, “The challenge for the United States is to ignore his (Castro) continued manhandling of freedom and to retaliate against it with the weapon he fears most, which is increased exposure to Western capitalism and Western practices.”
It is difficult to argue with that. It is time to end the failed trade embargo and help ease the suffering of the Cuban people.
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