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 · Books · Adoption: Guatemalan style
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Adoption: Guatemalan style

Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli - April 18th, 2011
Adoption, Guatemalan Style: Between Light and Shadow: A Guatemalan Girl’s Journey through Adoption
By Jacob Wheeler
University of Nebraska Press
By Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli
Jacob Wheeler may be too honest. He may be too perplexed by a heartbreaking reality. He may be so torn by the state of Guatemalan adoption that he can’t morally bring himself to make a definitive statement. All of that and more is evident in his book, “Between Light and Shadow: A Guatemalan Girl’s Journey through Adoption.”
From wanting to applaud American couples saving children from poverty and early death to decrying the loss of a country’s babies, it is evident that Wheeler is torn.
On one hand there is the story of 14-year-old Ellie, a teenager from Traverse City, adopted at the age of seven from Guatemala. She was seemingly sought out by corrupt facilitators when an older child, rather than a baby, was sought after. Whether her birth mother gave her up knowingly with the expectation of being paid, or was tricked and tried to get her back—truth lies somewhere in a murky middle.
The story’s center swirls around Ellie at 14, after seven years still feeling ‘the hole in her heart’ where her other family lives. And there is her adoptive mother, Judy, who wants to help heal this child she’s come to love as her own through reuniting Ellie with her Guatemalan family—at least for a visit.

Woven through the story of this reunion with brothers who once chased the car that took Ellie away from them and a mother torn between her feelings and a life lived in hell, is the story of the kinds of adoption that in the United States would be called criminal.
Whether the poor women of Central America are duped into giving up their children, offered money that might save their other children from starvation, or contracted with to produce babies for wealthy people who can’t have a child of their own, the adoption scene in Guatemala is ugly. On the one hand, as Wheeler points out, children are being saved from lives of abuse and starvation, being brought to America to lives of iPods and plenty. On the other hand—does anyone have the right to the children, the future of another country?
Wheeler writes of adoption facilitated by corrupt lawyers who will bend what little government oversight is in place, leaving a child without a birth certificate, with forged papers, without knowledge of where it was they came from, who their people were, and nothing of their own culture. It is the story of inhumanity and women being treated as baby factories.
Some of the adoptive parents, as Wheeler points out, are well intentioned. Some of them, seen through Wheeler’s eyes, are abhorrent: babies on demand, of the right gender, the right sort. In one case a hopeful parent looks at the photo of a prospective child and asks only, “What’s that?”

Wheeler, a journalist and publisher of the Glen Arbor Sun, offered to help Judy find Ellie’s mother and brothers. He set off for Guatemala with the idea of writing a book about the adoption business in that country, but ran into one conundrum after another as the lives of the children; the state of the country -- recently torn by civil war and now at odds with much of the modern world; the mind-numbing poverty, corruption; cruelty; misogyny, all form questions impossible to deal with easily.
Without papers that definitively said whether Ellie came from El Salvador or Guatemala, Wheeler set off to find her family with only a seven-year-old’s memories to guide him. From there on it becomes a detective story of unearthing a relative here, a neighbor there, until the mother and brothers are found.
This is nothing like a feel-good fairy tale. Nothing will be as we expect, just as nothing that happens is expected by Judy or Jacob. They face unwanted challenges, and then new realizations of who they, as Americans, really are. What the book brings out is the worst, and then the best, in everyone—all sides: Guatemalan and American.
Always, at the heart of the story, is a seven-year-old snatched from the only home and people she knew to be taken to a foreign land, to live with foreign people, in a culture not her own. If a culprit is needed—it is the country itself. If there was employment for the poor, if there was government support for families, if the Catholic Church didn’t frighten women away from birth control, if women weren’t degraded by downtrodden men… if life weren’t other than it is… the babies of Guatemala, the future, might survive, even thrive, where they are born.

Jacob Wheeler has written a book that should be an eye-opener for any American couple seeking to adopt in that country. There is responsibility for their actions that might go far beyond providing a home for a needy child. There are actions that have far-reaching consequences for them and for their adopted child.
On the other hand, where is the morality in being able to save one child from early death and a life of misery and not doing it? I think this unanswerable question is what Wheeler so deftly handles. It is refreshing to read a book where the writer doesn’t supply dishonest answers or takes an untenable stand. Maybe what he’s accomplished here is to open eyes, to make us look beyond our borders not for children—used as a commodity, but for ways to help other countries lift themselves up; help save an entire people, many children, rather than one child at a time.

New In Print:
“Surviving My Happy Childhood” by Jim Carpenter of Leland is a book of stories about growing up in Michigan. From memories of snowball fights to a bit of voyeurism in a cloak room the stories travel through fiction and fact to create entertaining vignettes of Midwest life. In “Arthur Woodbridge” the protagonist deals with the loss of a 19-year-old friend. In “Sammy” he deals with his brother’s imaginary friend. From elementary school into adulthood, Carpenter’s stories are funny and touching.

Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli is teaching a creative writing course at NMC beginning April 20ew. Call Carol Evans at NMC extended education for details and to register: 995-1705.
Her fourth novel in the Emily Kincaid series from Midnight Ink, “Dead Dogs and Englishmen,” just received a starred review in Kirkus Reviews and will be in bookstores this July.
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