Letters 05-02-2016

Facts About Trails I would like to correct some misinformation provided in Kristi Kates’ article about the Shore-to-Shore Trail in your April 18 issue. The Shore-to-Shore Trail is not the longest continuous trail in the Lower Peninsula. That honor belongs to the North Country Trail (NCT), which stretches for over 400 miles in the Lower Peninsula. In fact, 100 miles of the NCT is within a 30-minute drive of Traverse City, and is maintained by the Grand Traverse Hiking Club...

North Korea Is Bluffing I eagerly read Jack Segal’s columns and attend his lectures whenever possible. However, I think his April 24th column falls into an all too common trap. He casually refers to a nuclear-armed North Korea when there is no proof whatever that North Korea has any such weapons. Sure, they have set off some underground explosions but so what? Tonga could do that. Every nuclear-armed country on Earth has carried out at least one aboveground test, just to prove they could do it if for no other reason. All we have is North Korea’s word for their supposed capabilities, which is no proof at all...

Double Dipping? In Greg Shy’s recent letter, he indicated that his Social Security benefit was being unfairly reduced simply due to the fact that he worked for the government. Somehow I think something is missing here. As I read it this law is only for those who worked for the government and are getting a pension from us generous taxpayers. Now Greg wants his pension and he also wants a full measure of Social Security benefits even though he did not pay into Social Security...

Critical Thinking Needed Our media gives ample coverage to some presidential candidates calling each other a liar and a sleaze bag. While entertaining to some, this certainly should lower one’s respect for either candidate. This race to the bottom comes as no surprise given their lack of respect for the rigors of critical thinking. The world’s esteemed scientists take great steps to preserve the integrity of their findings. Not only are their findings peer reviewed by fellow experts in their specialty, whenever possible the findings are cross-checked by independent studies...

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Withdrawals of a political junkie

Rick Coates - October 20th, 2008
Based on my writings, most readers of the Express probably figure my life is all about food, booze and rock and roll. Actually, I have been a political junkie for most of my life. But, I now find myself on the growing list of Americans who have become disgruntled with the political process in our country. This current presidential election and the so-called four “debates” over the past month have done little to change my opinion that the process of electing qualified candidates to office is improving.
I blame my colleagues in the media for this as much as I put the blame on the politicians and the American public.
First of all, there is probably an assumption from readers that I and all of the staff at the Express are Democrats. While I am unable to speak for the rest of my colleagues, I am an independent. I have voted over the years for both Democrats and Republicans and, in some elections I have voted in the Democratic primary and, other times, the Republican primary.
I have managed or played a major role in 13 political campaigns from the local to the national level (judges, prosecutors, state legislators and a U.S. congressional campaign). Of those campaigns, eight of them were for Republican candidates.
When I enter the voting both on November 4 in Acme Township I will be voting for Republicans, Democrats and possibly some third party candidates. I remain undecided in my choice for several offices, including the office of president.

After watching the final debate and listening to the political pundits break it all down, I find that I learned absolutely nothing new. I am further frustrated and see our country simply sinking deeper into a political quagmire.
For me personally, I am bothered with the vilification of those running for political office. When you follow what is being said, you begin to wonder if each political candidate works directly for Lucifer.
As citizens, we have to share in some of this blame. Are we really that gullible? But more importantly, the media does as well. The media has become, for the most part, a “monetary monster,” focused on bottom lines and the headlines that return profits, not Pulitzers.
It is difficult to pinpoint exactly when the transition of civility in the process turned to the politics of hate. I grew up in a family with one set of staunch Republican grandparent’s and the other set, card-carrying Democrats. The political discussions were always civil and respectful.
My grandmother was the secretary for the Michigan Conventional Constitution and eventually became a legislative aide for a Democrat. I observed that in her conversations, while disagreements and differences of opinion existed, there was always respect for those with opposing viewpoints. I never heard her refer to anyone from the Republican Party as evil or as bad.
Last week I was in a coffee shop in Northern Michigan and a group of men who gather daily were talking politics. My jaw dropped when I heard one of them speak about how “evil Barack Obama is and that we need the KKK to make a comeback.” Of the dozen at that table not one person challenged his comment as being wrong. Instead there were nods of support.
Another quickly responded, “We need our grandsons to tell all their friends to tell their parents, if Obama gets in he will take away all of our guns.” Not sure I heard Obama make that claim.
At political rallies led by vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, some in the crowd have shouted “kill him” or n----r.”
Now the other side is equally as bad. A week ago a group showed up to a Palin rally wearing shirts that said “Palin Is A C--t.” The list is endless of each candidate being painted essentially as the “devil,” or “un-Amrican.”

During the final debate, McCain expressed his disgust over comments made by Congressman John Lewis that McCain/Palin were creating a climate of racial tension similar to the one George Wallace created nearly 40 years ago. Obama countered about McCain supporters using the “N-word” or chanting “kill him.” McCain then came back and said his campaign cannot be responsible for the comments of a few people and that he has always immediately repudiated any of these negative statements.
This is where McCain is wrong and where my colleagues in the media have been in the wrong. If I go into a movie theater with a friend and know ahead of time that my friend is going to yell “fire,” then I stand up and say that what he did was wrong, and I can’t be held responsible for him. But, does that make it okay?
I don’t think so. This is exactly what these candidates are doing. They know ahead of time that their supporters are going to stand up speak words that are going to create panic.
While it is easy to point the finger at the politicians, the media in this country are fanning the flames of hate and deception. Somewhere along the line we have blended the nighttime talk show host/comedian/entertainer into the media mix. I counted on Johnny Carson to make me laugh when he poked fun at the politicians, but I didn’t count on Mr. Carson to shape my political opinions.
Somewhere along the way, the late night mouths evolved into journalists. Guys like Rush Limbaugh and Steven Colbert have blended lines of entertainment and journalism. This profitable approach that these talking heads have taken has found its way into mainstream media.

A few months ago in a rush to keep up with competitive news companies, the major networks broadcasted a video clip that they thought came from a legitimate news service. The story told of how several nations were quickly trying to claim a stake to some underwater parcel near Greenland. All the major networks played the clip and reported on the story, only to find out the next day that it was actually a clip from the “Titanic” movie and they had been duped by some kids.
If the media is that easily fooled by kids, what gives us any confidence in their ability to decifer legitimate news from these double-talking politicians?
At the end of the day. this is all about winning. It is us against them and it those guys against us. This fact was driven home to me during the 2006 election when the Republican leadership of the U.S. House of Representatives took to the podium. During a post-election night press conference, the Republican leadership spoke about how they planned to recapture a Republican majority in 2008.
Not once did they mention reaching over party lines to work to end the war, to improve the economy, to create jobs, to improve schools, create alternative energy sources, balance the budget, fix roads, improve health insurance, or fix social security. It was all about winning the majority back in 2008. The Democrats fared no better, instead placing their focus on wining the White House in 2008.
So here is a news flash to my fellow Americans. It really doesn’t matter who gets elected on November 4, as we can expect more of the same. The next four years will be about name-calling and political gridlock and both political parties trying to position themselves for the 2010 mid-term elections and either gaining or keeping control of the White House in 2012.
Expect more of the same from the media as well. After all, do we really want to read about some plan to fix the economy? I don’t think so: I want to know what Obama had to eat for lunch while he was meeting with those terrorists; and whether or not he was on cocaine during those meetings. Be sure to find out who Sarah Palin had sex with in high school, too.
Oh well, it is back to figuring out who to vote for… hmm, which is the lesser of two evils?
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