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..

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Random Thoughts: What‘s wrong with us?

Robert Downes - October 5th, 2009
Random Thoughts: What‘s Wrong With Us?
Robert Downes 10/5/09

We just passed the first anniversary of the collapse of the stock market and the wreck of the world economy. To refresh your memory, a year ago a gang of suicidal financial terrorists flew a jet full of empty promises into the Twin Towers of home ownership and retirement savings on Wall Street. Result? Millions of Americans lost their homes and their 401k savings.
September 15, 2008 is generally held to be the day everything went kerblooey with the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers -- the largest in U.S. history.
Lehman Brothers was a global financial firm that was heavily invested in subprime (“dubious“) mortgages. Unable to pass this junk on to its fleeing investors, or to secure a bailout from the U.S. government, the bankruptcy of Lehman kicked off a global meltdown in the economy.
What‘s amazing about the events of the past year is how genial Americans have been about getting reamed. You‘d think that people who‘ve lost 30-40 percent of their lifes‘ savings (through the devaluation of their homes or retirement funds) would be marching in the streets with pitchforks and torches.
Consider what happened in Albania in the mid-‘90s, when two-thirds of the population invested in a government-approved Ponzi scheme. When the Albanians realized they‘d been fleeced, they went on a rampage, rioting in the streets, overturning the government, and killing 2,000 people.
To put this in context, Albania has a population of only 3 million people -- one percent of our population of 300 million. If Americans carried on like Albanians, our death toll would be 200,000 and Wall Street would be decorated with investment bankers hanging from lamp posts.
Similarly, in Argentina the middle class revolted in 2001 over economic issues. A run on the banks led to riots when the government put the brakes on making withdrawals. Looting, mass demonstrations, and the overthrow of the government were the order of the day.
But here in America, we have more of a “grin and bear it“ attitude. True, the Republican Party was thrown out of office for its part in deregulating the banks, which led to our current disaster. But you don‘t see anyone on Wall Street going to jail for their part in lowering the value of the assets of the entire world by 30 percent or more -- much less running down the street, pursued by an angry mob.
Instead, we have an ‘ah shucks‘ attitude, and the quiet faith that maybe the stock market will bounce back by the time (if ever) that we retire, and maybe we‘ll still have jobs next year to pay for that underwater mortgage...
Violence is no solution, and I‘m not advocating that we emulate the rock-thowing Albanians or Argentines, but couldn‘t we be a little less “nice“ about getting ripped off by CEOs who make 400 times the pay of the average worker? (Those who still have jobs, anyway.)
With that in mind, it‘s both cheering and timely to see that Michael Moore‘s new film, Capitalism: A Love Story, packs some cinematic smelling salts. Maybe it will wake some of us up. (Check out the interview with Moore and film review in this issue.)
Dovetailing with Moore‘s film, there‘s currently another documentary out, entitled What‘s the Matter With Kansas? based on the bestselling book by Thomas Frank.
Frank notes that Kansas was a progressive, left-wing state in the early 20th century. Back then, economic issues such as fair pay, union organizing, and busting up the monopolies of railroads and big business were burning issues for farmers and laborers. In fact, in the early 1900s, America was on the brink of a socialist revolution by angry farmers and workingmen which was averted by the reforms and monopoly-busting of President Theodore Roosevelt -- a progressive Republican.
But through the years, working people in the American heartland have turned away from those meat-and-potato issues in favor of conservative and religious ideologies that encourage people to become human doormats for the super-rich, who run their lives from afar.
These are the folks who are more riled up at the polls over gay marriage and abortion than issues such as whether they‘ll have a job next week.
“This is its point,“ stated film critic Roger Ebert in a recent review of What‘s the Matter With Kansas? “Conservatives in the heartland have persuaded themselves to vote against their own economic and social well-being because they consider hot-button issues more important than their incomes, economic chances, educations and the welfare of society at large.“
Ebert adds that these folks tend to “accept hardship as the will of God.“ This, when more likely, their problems stem from some CEO moving his plant to Indonesia, or outsourcing their jobs to India.
I have a friend who desperately needs medical care, but has no insurance. He‘d love to see President Obama‘s “public option“ for health care reform become a reality. The alternative is bankruptcy, lack of medical treatment, and being worried sick over his situation.
And yet, people -- including his own friends -- send him email propaganda opposing a public health care option for those who can‘t afford insurance.
What‘s wrong with Kansas? The bigger question is what‘s wrong with us? Why are we willing to allow insurance companies to make decisions on our health care, rather than the government we elect and control? Why are we willing to let the thieves on Wall Street continue to receive millions in bonuses from the wreck of our fortunes? Why do we allow CEOs to ship our jobs overseas and then dodge their taxes, while enjoying the protection of American liberty and our armed forces?
What‘s wrong with us that we‘re so willing to lie down and take it?

Speaking of health care reform, the so-called conservative Blue Dog Democrats, including our own U.S. Rep. Bart Stupak, have begun the “circular firing squad“ act that the party is well known for in the aim of shooting down any meaningful health care reform.
In Stupak‘s case, it‘s a pledge to obstruct reform if it includes any public funding for abortion.
Considering that much of Stupak‘s district in the U.P. has an unemployment rate of 20 percent or more and its people desperately need a public option for health care, one can only wonder why he‘s willing to play into the hands of the insurance companies for this sideshow issue.

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