Letters 12-05-2016

Trump going back on promises I’m beginning to suspect that we’ve been conned by our new president. He’s backpedaling on nearly every campaign promise he made to us...

This Christmas, think before you speak Now that Trump has won the election, a lot of folks who call themselves Christians seem to believe they have a mandate to force their beliefs on the rest of us. Think about doing this before you start yelling about people saying “happy holidays,” whining about Starbucks coffee cup image(s), complaining about other’s lifestyles…

First Amendment protects prayer (Re: Atheist Gary Singer’s contribution to the Crossed column titled “What will it take to make America great again?” in the Nov. 21 edition of Northern Express.) Mr. Singer, the First Amendment states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof …”

Evidence of global warming Two basic facts underlay climate science: first, carbon dioxide was known to be a heat-trapping gas as early as 1850; and second, humans are significantly increasing the amount of CO2 in Earth’s atmosphere through the burning of fossil fuels and other activities. We are in fact well on our way to doubling the CO2 concentrations in our atmosphere...

Other community backpack programs I just read your article in the Nov. 28 issue titled “Beneficial backpacks: Two local programs help children.” It is a good article, but there are at least two other such programs in the Traverse City area that I am aware of...

A ‘fox’ in the schoolhouse Trump’s proposed secretary of education, Betsy DeVos (“the fox” in Dutch), is a right-wing billionaire; relentless promoter of unlimited, unregulated charter schools and vouchers; and enemy of public schooling...

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. . . .


- November 8th, 2010
After the election...
In Michigan the winners have just been elected to run a state with a
$1.5 billion dollar shortfall in its budget, massive
un-and-underemployment, and the largest city dying. I’m glad I didn’t
run for anything.
But really, what are you winners going to do? Cut taxes. Yet Michigan
is 25 or 26 among the 50 states in tax burden on its citizens, so that
doesn’t sound like an oppressive rate.
They might make us a right-to-work state -- that works so well for
North Dakota. They have lots of highly paid jobs for the
undereducated. Ha! Some might consider Mississippi or South Carolina,
states that mortgaged most of their future tax dollars to attract a
few thousand jobs. I’m not sure anyone in Michigan would want that.
Also, because of our hard winters Michigan‘s infrastructure needs more
In Northern Michigan we have two major industries, agriculture and
tourism. This is as true today as it was 100 years ago and both need
good infrastructure and a clean environment. So we must find a way to
bring in more tourists without further damage to our environment. We
can’t pave the wetlands and build more four-lane roads through forests
just to allow a few more people easy access to the north. There must
be a balance between individual property rights, like sales of our
water to be bottled and shipped to Phoenix and Dallas, with our local
need for clean water.
I hope the one environmentally-sound new jobs growth engine is not
killed before it gets a chance to mature: the film industry tax
credits. This could provide healthier growth for the entire state, but
it needs time to bring in not only film crews, editors, stage
builders, electricians, etc, that every production must have behind
the scenes.
On the programs we do fund maybe we should look at them and see what
we are over spending on, like prisons. Michigan spends more money than
any other Great Lakes state. Is that because we have more crooked
residents or maybe because we have more strict laws that jail people
longer. Which is it? Along the same lines how much does the “War on
Drugs” cost us, and what is the return?
Michigan will never again be a state that has thousands of highly-paid
jobs for unskilled people. Those jobs always go where the workers are
paid the least and there are no environmental regulations. We can
develop jobs for skilled people, but that development will cost money
and take time. Have we elected the people who understand this?

Don Seman • Bellaire

No dancing for the Dead
I attended the Dark Star Orchestra performance at the TC Opera House,
excited and ready to have a great time.
I bought my ticket an hour before the show and sat at Right Brain
Brewery with some friends. Examining my ticket I saw the words “No
Dancing.” This must be a joke, I thought, nearly falling off my stool.
How twisted would that be. It would be like a bar allowing you to
enter but not to drink any beer. Incongruous and ridiculous.
At the show, we were ushered to our assigned seats (what happened to
festival seating?) and I sat through five awesome songs, tapping my
feet and slapping my knees along with the 200 others there, feeling
the good vibes from some great musicians.
But an invisible force field was holding me down. Why? On the sixth
song or so I couldn’t help myself, I knew that if I didn’t dance I
would have to kill myself. So, I got up and started dancing.
Slowly, as I looked around, about 50 others joined me, and how good it
felt, how natural. The bouncers, big burly guys, who had been standing
arms akimbo with ridiculously menacing looks on their faces, came over
and tried to get people to sit down. It took a bearded and dark-haired
character out of Hogwart‘s to intimidate mostly everybody into sitting
down. I was in the second row when he approached me and gave me “a
final warning.” He was going to kick me out for dancing at a Dead
Supposedly, the floor is damaged, although the Opera House routinely
has weddings of up to 200 people who are allowed to dance. So, next
time a show is booked at the Opera House, please allow the patrons to
do what they want, or don’t book that kind of band. Or else we should
just have bouncers at the lake shore during the summer and a sign that
says, “You can look at the water, but No Swimming.”

Michael Darigan • Suttons Bay author of backpocket e-pistles

Religion & free speech
Robert Downes (“Random Thoughts” 10/25) should be a bit tougher on
himself when writing about complex issues such as the First Amendment
(ie. the Constitution’s Establishment Clause). Like the professors and
law students responding with laughter to candidate Christine
O’Donnell’s assertion that the First Amendment does not guarantee a
“separation of church and state,” Downes apparently fails to
appreciate either the historical origin of that phrase or the fact
that it is to be found nowhere in the U.S. Constitution.
The phrase “wall of separation” was most famously contained in a
letter from Thomas Jefferson to the Danbury Baptist Association,
written in support of religious free exercise. It found its way into
Supreme Court currency via Justice Hugo Black’s opinion in the 1947
Emerson case, and has been cited ever since. The “wall of
separation,” which the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals described as both
“tiresome” and “extra-constitutional,” never literally replaced the
actual text of the Establishment Clause.
That clause still states; “Congress shall make no law respecting the
establishment of religion.” What did these words mean to those
ratifying the Constitution, and what do they mean today? Those who
ratified our Constitution were well aware of European religious wars
and also knew that the term “Congress,” as used in the Establishment
Clause, referred only to the national government. Moreover, the widely
supported existence of state, as opposed to national, religions at the
time of the ratification is an historic fact. How might all of these
facts, seriously considered, illuminate the meaning of the
Establishment Clause? Was the intent only to stop a national
government from interfering with established state religions? Does
recognition or limited support of religion equal establishment?
Rather than laughing at efforts to seek answers, law students, their
professors, and Downes should all be grappling with such questions.

Steve Francis • via email

God & government
Since Robert Downes is given a full page in your paper to spew his
left wing rants, it would be helpful to your readers that he not take
things out of context and to also research the FACTS.
The Tea Party is not a bunch of “Ding-a Lings” which he would be
easily able to find out if he cared to interview some of the members.
For him to say that Christine O’Donnell “did not have a clue as to the
meaning of the First Amendment” shows HIS ignorance.
The First Amendment reads as follows: “Congress shall make no law
respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free
exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the
press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to
petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
Do you see any thing in this amendment that says there is to be a
separation of church and state? Perhaps Mr. Downes would ‘like’ it to
say that, just as our President would like to omit the reference to
our Creator from the Declaration of Independence. Perhaps the
President of our United States, has forgotten the last sentence of the
oath he took (supposedly) in 2009... “So help me GOD.”

Rebecca Carlson • Rapid City

I want to tell you how very much I enjoy the writings of Stephen
Tuttle. He says with compact, meaningful words what so many of us are
thinking. I especially liked the “Please Don’t Vote” column. He
knows how to draw you in and then get right to the point, turning it
completely around. A very thought-provoking writer, and right on.
Please continue to carry his writings.

Carol Williams • via email

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