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 · Random Thoughts · There aughta‘ be a...
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There aughta‘ be a law...

Robert Downes - July 20th, 2009
Random Thought
There aughta‘ be a law...
Robert Downes 7/20/09
Here‘s another idea for marketing Michigan out of its troubles. Allow every restaurant in the state to sell Michigan-made beers and wines without a liquor license.
A bright spot in Michigan‘s economy is the success of our wineries and microbreweries. We have more than 50 wineries in the state, and as Rick Coates has noted in his “Bottoms Up“ column, Michigan is now considered one of the top destinations in America for the quality of its brewpubs and microbrews.
So what is Lansing doing to coax this goose into laying more golden eggs? Lip service.
But imagine the benefits if Michigan reformed its discriminatory liquor license laws in favor of the relaxed approach followed by restaurants in countries around the world.
For a small fee, every restaurant should be allowed to sell Michigan-made beers and wines to their patrons. Beverages from other states or countries would not qualify, and restaurants that cheated would lose their privileges.
This would pump tens (or even hundreds) of millions of dollars into Michigan‘s beer and wine industry, in addition to benefiting thousands of Mom & Pop restaurants that don‘t qualify for a liquor license or can‘t afford one. It would also be a bonanza for state tax revenues.
It‘s a no-brainer to promote your own products in your own state with such a simple expedient.
Currently, our liquor license laws are on par with a state-run organized crime racket that shuts out and punishes small restaurants while extorting obscene fees from bar owners and larger restaurants.
It‘s also absurd that diners can‘t enjoy a bottle of wine in an Italian, Greek or French restaurant that doesn‘t have a liquor license. Or beer in a German restaurant or American steakhouse. These beverages are part of the cultural heritage and cuisine of those institutions and it‘s ridiculous to deny patrons and restaurant owners alike, based on archaic temperance laws dating back to the 1800s.
Michigan has lost billions in new business and tax revenues by ignoring social trends. We need a legislator who‘ll pick up the ball for our state‘s beer and wine industry and run with it for an easy touchdown.

I felt a bit sheepish reading Garrett Ellison‘s excellent letter on “The Myth of Good News“ in this week‘s Express, because for this issue at least, we‘re guilty of being packed with features and lacking in hard news. Fortunately, we have plenty of sparky letters to keep things interesting.
But I too want to heave whenever someone puts forth the bogus idea that newspapers need more “good news,“ because that‘s also a euphemism for “cover-up.“
Take, for example, the cabal of ‘good old boys‘ in Traverse City who tried to engineer the ruin of the Record-Eagle with the dream of bringing a paper to town that would focus on “good news“ as its replacement. They were angry that the paper reported on an underhanded parking deck fiasco in TC and the shady dealings of Meijer‘s in its fight with Acme Township, among other issues.
If TC‘s daily newspaper printed only “good news,“ then none of those stories would have seen the light of day. City taxpayers would be paying for a parking deck we don‘t need during a recession, and a corporate criminal scheme would have undermined the will of voters in Acme Township.
Old-timers often look to the past through pink lemonade spectacles to a time when newspapers printed government handouts as “the news“ and “good news“ ruled the day. Prior to the mid-‘60s, “bad news“ about child abuse, domestic violence, rape, the perils of drunk driving, incest, prostitution, racism, poverty and other social ills didn‘t exist... in the newspaper, at least. At best, “bad news“ was codified in newspapers of the time and being “unsuitable“; at worst, it was kept in the dark and allowed to fester.
One could argue that our country wouldn‘t be in the mess it is today if America‘s financial press had done its job, exposing the evil practices of Wall Street, the banking system, the mortgage bubble and the reckless deregulation policies of the Bush administration. The financial press was too busy covering the “good news“ of the too-good-to-be-true real estate market and the Dow Jones average heading past 14,000 points. But that was before it all came crashing down, with the economy of the entire world losing 30-40 percent of its value. Perhaps a little more “bad news“ would have prevented that disaster and the loss of millions of jobs and retirement plans.

Are you sick of “social networking“ yet? The idea is to link your business, band or pet cause to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, MySpace, YouTube and a galaxy of websites and blogs. Then you get your friends, old high school chums, distant family and friends of friends to pass on the news about Grandma Cracker‘s Old-Style Tofu Chewing Gum, or whatever you‘re selling, and wait for the bucks to roll in.
The problem with social networking is that everyone‘s piling on, producing a roar of commercial white noise on the Net that we‘ll eventually tune out.
That, and the fact that past a certain point, you don‘t know who your “friends“ are on the Internet. An article in the June issue of the IPBA Independent notes that once you get to the “fourth circle“ of your viral marketing blitz, the pornographers and hookers start showing up, followed by a fifth circle tidal wave of marketers and kooks with messages such as “Amanda is throwing a Striptease Party today!“
Locally, Facebook was recently hacked by a porn ring with the message going viral to many furious members. An in-your-face (literally) porn photo is not the kind of greeting you want to send to your great Aunt Nelly.
It makes you wonder what the next Net craze will be and how to get there before a billion other people do.

Republicans in Congress are worried sick that private health care will soon be a thing of the past and a socialistic big government scheme will take away our cherished access to the doctor of our choice.
Translation: their friends in the big insurance companies face the extremely slight threat of losing a few bucks under the Democrats‘ national health care plan.
Meanwhile, Democrats in Congress hope to be all things to every American, even if national health care requires pandering to those same insurance companies and spending trillions to tweak 85-year-olds back to their teenage state of health.
Either way, no one seems to be throwing around the word “sacrifice“ much in the plans for national health care. And although the results are still out on how the health of the average American will fare under the new plan, one can only imagine that the health insurance companies will come out of this very healthy indeed.

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