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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Veering left or right and going nowhere

Stephen Tuttle - May 17th, 2010
Veering left or right and going nowhere
Are you a conservative or liberal? Can you even define the terms?
Modern politics and media seem to require that we all be labeled left
or right. The middle, where moderates used to reside, continues to
shrink, a tiny sliver of common sense between warring extremes.
Dictionaries define conservatives as those who favor the status quo
and liberals as those who favor change. Things were so much simpler
when those definitions actually meant something.
Political labels are now weapons with adjectives attached.
Conservatives are almost always described as radical right-wing nut
jobs. Liberals are described as ultra liberal radical left-wing
In current parlance, conservatives generally describe themselves as
favoring smaller government and lower taxes. They support a strong
military, oppose gay rights, are pro-life. They seem to believe this
should be a Christian nation, think they know what the Founders
intended when they wrote the U.S. Constitution and love the Second
Amendment above all others in the Bill of Rights. They seem to demand
absolute adherence to every detail of their self-defined conservatism
– any variance or independent thought results in the dreaded RINO
(Republican in Name Only) label.
(This requirement of absolute fidelity to ideology has become
downright bizarre. Republicans in Arizona tried to remove the late
Barry Goldwater’s name from their state headquarters building because
he had become too “liberal” in retirement. That would be the same
Barry Goldwater who bravely wore the mantel of conservatism long
before it was fashionable, penned The Conscience of a Conservative,
and stayed true to his personal beliefs until his dying breath. He
ran afoul of modern conservatives when his libertarian streak and
beliefs in personal freedom became too darned independent.)
Of course, there are no modern liberals since the label long ago made
its wearer a political pariah. There are now moderates and
progressives, instead.
They are a little bit more difficult to pigeon-hole since they do not
function as a monolithic bloc. In fact, they aren’t especially even
well organized. They believe the government should be a tool for
social justice, don’t shy away from the notion of redistributing
wealth through taxation, support the military because they have to for
their own political survival and are generally more supportive of
individual freedoms. They’re pro-choice, more supportive of gay
rights, believe the Constitution is open to interpretation and growth
and love the Bill of Rights except for that pesky Second Amendment.
Moderates are a bit more flexible since their positions frequently
change, a necessity if they want to maintain their voting coalition.
By and large, this labeling is all bullshit, including that which I’ve
just done. Very few of us toe the philosophical line of either
conservatism or liberalism. We are typically shoved into one camp or
the other, oftentimes against our will, by politicians who find those
labels convenient when trying to push our buttons, and by a media too
dense or lazy to dig deeper than what they see on the surface.
The result is a political estrangement that makes it virtually
impossible to even seriously debate, much less solve, any of the
serious issues we now face. Low turnout primary elections have become
safe havens for the most extreme of each party. So we end up electing
folks who are determined to solidify their own political base by
yammering incessantly about the 20% of the issues on which we don’t
agree while ignoring the 80% that represent common ground.
Even the most liberal politician surely must see that trillion dollar
annual deficits (for those of you who enjoy actual numbers, that would
be $1,000,000,000,000) are unsustainable and will ultimately lead to
the ruination of our country. And even the most conservative
politician surely must see that ignoring those among us who, through
no fault of their own, are destitute and hungry, is equally
reprehensible and diminishes us as a country and as a people.
We are struggling with monumental budget issues, the potential
collapse of both Medicare and Social Security, a flawed energy policy,
a very real global terrorism threat, spending priorities wildly out of
whack, a crumbling national infrastructure, children going to bed
hungry every night, a national public education system that seems to
fall further behind our international competitors every year and a
group of politicians, on both sides, who seem completely oblivious to
reality while squabbling about minutiae in an effort to garner another
handful of votes.
Even worse, we allow them to get away with it. We’ve apparently
decided it’s easier to bark at those with whom we don’t agree, and
to call them names, than it is to demand our elected officials work
together to find actual solutions.
It’s comforting to slap a derogatory label on a political opponent.
It absolves us of the responsibility of actually paying attention or
even considering any position other than whatever whim drifts into our
heads. The more we do it the less we accomplish. We would be much
better served if the next time our knee jerked reflexively we spent
some time in front of a mirror. The real problems we now confront,
and the solutions we need, are in that angry face staring back at us.

Stephen Tuttle is a political consultant who formerly wrote for the
Arizona Republic.

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