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 · Bringing the War home
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Bringing the War home

Robert Downes - May 31st, 2010
Bringing the War Home
Perhaps someday, someone will unearth some top secret file at the
C.I.A. which will tell us exactly what we’ve gotten in return for
5,456 deaths and $3 trillion spent on our wars in Iraq and
Or, like the war in Vietnam, it will all remain a mystery, with no one
ever being able to adequately explain what these wars have done to
benefit America.
Speaking of Vietnam, to borrow a phrase from the 1960s, perhaps it’s
time to “bring the war home.”
In the ’60s, that slogan was used by the Weather Underground to
advocate bringing the violence of Vietnam to the streets of America as
a way to encourage our country to get out of the war.
Today, however, we could take it to mean we’ve had enough of funneling
American lives and dollars down the black hole of Central Asia. We’ve
got enough troubles of our own, and those war dollars and our armed
forces are needed here -- not halfway around the world.
We have an ongoing calamity in America that seems much the same as a
war zone. For starters, the most compelling urban renewal strategy of
our time involves the destruction of cities which have been ruined by
destructive ‘fair trade’ policies and the outsourcing of jobs.
Consider the City of Detroit where the jobless rate is currently
hovering near 50%. Mayor Dave Bing’s plan to save Detroit is to
downsize it by bulldozing a quarter of the city -- 10,000 homes and
empty businesses over the next three years. In total, there are an
estimated 33,500 abandoned buildings in Detroit and 91,000 vacant
Last week it was announced that the 5,000-square-foot boyhood home of
presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney will
be torn down in the Detroit enclave of Palmer Woods. This was once a
neighborhood that inspired visions of opulence and success. What an
irony that even the mansions of presidential candidates can fall to
the wrecking ball in a country that’s been bled in so many ways by its
In Flint, where 70,000 jobs have been lost by the withdrawal of
General Motors, more than 4,000 abandoned buildings have been marked
for destruction. Genesee County Treasurer Dan Kildee came up with this
strategy for Flint’s rebirth and his ideas are reportedly being
considered for 50 other American cities, most of which are in the
“Rust Belt” of the Midwest and Northeast.
Other towns, such as Youngstown, OH; Baltimore, MD; and Pittsburgh, PA
are following suit. To paraphrase another saying from the Vietnam era:
“Sometimes you have to destroy a village to save it,” and that’s
apparently where we’ve landed.
Consider what 5,456 fallen servicemen could have done as teachers,
social workers and construction workers, rebuilding our cities. And
were we better off spending $3 trillion on Iraq and Afghanistan when
scores of our own cities are in danger of becoming part of the third
Ironically, Detroit, which has a $300 million deficit and an
evaporating tax base, served as the world’s “Arsenal of Democracy”
during World War II, building thousands of bombers and tanks. The old
town could sure use some of those war bucks now.
A ‘peace dividend’ could also benefit some of our local communities --
Cadillac, Gaylor and Manistee -- which have been hit hard by factory
closings. Imagine if the billions spent on bombing and then
rebuilding the infrastructure of Iraq had gone into new green energy
projects and factories here in Michigan. We certainly wouldn’t be in
last place in the nation for joblessness.
Currently, 58 congressional candidates from 21 states have come out
opposing any more funding for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. That
includes 19 Democrats, 18 Greens, 17 Libertarians, 2 Independents, 1
Republican, and 1 Socialist, according to author and antiwar activist
David Swanson. He adds that although many of the candidates differ in
their politics and philosophies, they’ve agreed on the following
“The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have cost Americans over $1 trillion
in direct costs, and over $3 trillion altogether. At a time when our
national debt exceeds $13 trillion, we can no longer afford these
wars. It’s time for Congress to reject any funding except to bring all
our troops safely home.”
To borrow another example from the Vietnam era, we didn’t get out of
that war because the Vietnamese ‘beat’ us; we left because the
incoming Democratic Congress elected on an antiwar platform in 1972
vowed to end funding for the war. This prompted President Richard
Nixon to order the 10-day Christmas bombing of Hanoi, resulting in a
speedy peace agreement.
Perhaps a similar threat of a pullout could prompt the governments of
Iraq and Afghanistan to get their act together. Instead, they have all
the incentive in the world to stay hitched to the U.S. gravy train.
Although most U.S. troops are scheduled to leave Iraq this August,
with the drawdown expected in Afghanistan set to begin in 2011, one
can only imagine that the ‘afterglow’ of these wars will mean
stationing troops there for 50 years or more, as has been the case in
Korea and Western Europe.
Only time will tell if our efforts in Central Asia will play out, but
we do know that we’ve got an even greater emergency here in America
right now that needs attention.
Any among us could think of better ways to have spent $3 trillion than
on the dusty ruins of Iraq and Afghanistan. We might have spent a
fraction of that simply building thousands of roundabout traffic
circles in every city in the country, putting millions of people to
work and cutting our dependence on foreign oil. We might have spent a
fraction of that on new high-speed railroads or on restructuring
America’s energy grid to accommodate wind power -- again, cutting our
reliance on foreign oil.
Bring the war home, if only to begin rebuilding America and winning
our own war on joblessness and decay.

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