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 · U.P. Supermax desearves...
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U.P. Supermax desearves a look

Robert Downes - June 22nd, 2009
U.P. Supermax Deserves a Look
Robert Downes 6/22/09

Recently, U.S. Rep. Bart Stupak came up with an idea for pumping an extra
$1 billion or so into the economy of the Upper Peninsula. He was turned
down flat.
The idea? Turn one of the U.P.‘s prisons into a supermax facility and
transfer the detainees of Guantanamo there in exchange for a fat check
from Uncle Sam each year.
Stupak wrote a letter to President Obama in February, suggesting that the
30-acre Camp Manistique be converted to a high-security prison to house
the Gitmo prisoners.
The 290-bed prison in Schoolcraft County was closed in 2007. It‘s one of
four prisons in the U.P. that have been closed while Michigan tries to
pare down its $2 billion Corrections budget. Hundreds of jobs have been
lost in the U.P. due to the closings.
Former Republican Gov. John Engler has endorsed Stupak‘s plan as a way to
give Michigan‘s budget a boost and bring jobs to the Upper Peninsula.
Stupak was hoping for support from his fellow Michigan lawmakers. He got
little or none. Instead, 2010 gubernatorial candidate U.S. Rep. Pete
Hoekstra took pains to fan the fires of paranoia.
As noted in the Associated Press, Hoekstra called Stupak‘s proposal “a
really bad idea... balancing Michigan’s budget on the premise of bringing
240 of the most dangerous people in the world to the Upper Peninsula.”
Other state Republicans piled on, including Attorney General Mike Cox and
Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land.
Message to U.P. residents: get used to eating stone soup, because Lansing
feels you‘re too incompetent to deal with “the most dangerous people in
the world“ -- even those under the most extreme security imaginable.
Nor did Stupak receive much support from his own party. Governor
Jennifer Granholm, who could perhaps cinch the deal with a phone call to
President Obama, has declined to pursue the matter.
Unfortunately, the idea has given rise to fearmongering from those who
watch too many Die Hard movies or episodes of 24. Scare stories and
Chicken Little letters in the U.P. press imagine escaped terrorists
tip-toeing through the pine trees. Most run along the line that the
crafty, resourceful jihadists will easily thwart the safeguards of a
supermax prison and turn the U.P. into a bloodbath. As one blogger
claims, gun-toting Arabs could drive up from their stronghold in Dearborn
and bust those baddies out of the slammer, kind of like a Nicholas Cage
The truth is, no one has ever escaped from a U.S. “super-maximum“ prison,
which is no picnic by any standard. Some human rights advocates claim
that a life of solitary confinement in a supermax is so severe it
qualifies as “cruel and unusual punishment.“
Consider the fate of Al-Qaeda terrorist Zacarias Moussaoui, the “20th 9/11
hijacker,“ who was sentenced to life in the federal ADX Supermax prison in
Florence, Colorado -- also known as the “Alcatraz of the Rockies.“ As a
supermax prisoner, Moussaoui is monitored 24 hours a day by closed-circuit
TV. He is allowed out of his cell for only one hour per day to exercise,
and receives his meal through a port called a “chuck hole.“ The massive
reinforced steel doors of his prison are electronically controlled,
allowing no way for either a hostage or a prisoner to open them. He lives
in a windowless concrete cell, the walls and plumbing of which are
soundproofed to prevent any communication with other inmates.
It‘s unlikely that the residents of Colorado will find Moussaoui creeping
around their neighborhoods anytime soon, and such would also be the case
in the U.P.
But suppose some Arabicspeaking detainee did manage to break out, running
around the woods in an blaze-orange jumpsuit with all of those gun-toting
Yoopers in hot pursuit? We‘d have to send in the Michigan National Guard
to rescue the guy.
In a June 11 editorial endorsing Stupak‘s idea, the Detroit News made
the following point: “Could the Gitmo detainees be any more of a threat
than the Level 5 prisoners -- the worst of the worst, according to the
state Corrections Department rating system -- behind bars at Marquette
Branch Prison in the U.P.?“
It‘s possible that the idea of a supermax for Manistique isn‘t dead yet.
U.S. Senator Carl Levin has said it would be worth considering if local
officials in the U.P. give it their blessing. The plan also has the
support of the conservative Detroit News, along with former Gov. Engler.
So, who knows? With unemployment in Schoolcraft County exceeding 16
percent and no jobs in sight, it could be that the gang from Gitmo could
still receive a hearty Yooper welcome for the jobs and federal money
they‘ll bring north.
Either that, or those prisoners will head for another supermax prison --
say in Illinois or Colorado -- and our leaders in Lansing will have blown
another opportunity.

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