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 · The summer of 1811
. . . .

The summer of 1811

Robert Downes - August 15th, 2011
The Summer of 1811

If you happened to be enjoying the beaches of Northern Michigan in the
summer of 1811, chances are you were a member of the Chippewa or Odawa
Indian tribes.
Imagine living in a bark lodge along Lake Michigan or the inland lakes
that summer. Much of the season was spent fishing and drying the catch in
preparation for the winter to come. Nights were spent under a fresco of
stars that we rarely see these days, yet these stars had gazed down on a
way of life that had existed along these shores for thousands of years.
Next year, we will honor the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812 between
Britain and the United States -- a country which was barely out of its
cradle at the time. Northern Michigan played a key role in the war, and
the Mackinac Straits in particular were of global strategic importance.
So let’s set the Wayback Machine for the summer before the war to set the
stage for what we’ll be celebrating this time next year.
By most accounts, soldiers posted to the American fort at Mackinac Island
felt they had been exiled to a dreary fate at the end of the world. In the
early 1800s, Mackinac Island was at the far end of the Northwest
Territories of the United States, which had not yet acquired the lands
west of the Mississippi.
This was the wild west of its day, and yet the island was also a prize
sought by jealous empires since it guarded the water route to the fur
trade in the Old Northwest. It was North America’s version of the
fortress at Gibralter in the Mediterranean.
The fur trade originated in Montreal. Voyageurs would paddle the Ottawa
River to Lake Huron, and then through the Mackinac area, continuing on to
the western end of Lake Superior. From there, they portaged and paddled
through a chain of lakes and rivers deep into northern Canada, trading
with the Ojibwa for beaver, mink, lynx and other pelts. The furs were
shipped to London to be traded all over the world -- even as far away as
China in exchange for silk and spices.
But controlling this route was a dismal job for the troops on Mackinac
Island. Not much to do there, far from home. Boredom, heat and flies in
the summer and deadly cold in the winter.
And little did they know that on the following June, the United States
would declare war on Britain without bothering to inform the small
garrison on Mackinac Island.
In the summer of 1811, Americans had good reason to be riled up at the
British, whom we’d kicked out only a generation before in the Revolution
of 1776.
We had three bones to pick:
• For years, the press gangs of the Royal Navy had been boarding U.S.
merchant ships on the high seas and seizing our sailors to serve in the
war against Napoleon. A virtual wall of British ships blockaded French
and Spanish ports for years on end to prevent the invasion of England. The
blockade took tens of thousands of sailors in addition to hundreds of
ships, and the Royal Navy felt justified in raiding the U.S. merchant
fleet for sailors it believed to be British citizens.
• The British were also believed to be egging on their Indian allies to
attack settlements in the Ohio River Valley. American settlers were
pouring into the valley, which was rich in agriculture and trade
opportunities. This understandably enraged the Indians who lived there.
The settlers had good reason to be alarmed in turn because the Shawnee
war chief Tecumseh -- a brilliant diplomat and general -- was organizing
an Indian Confederacy with the goal of uniting tribes from the Canadian
border to Florida in a bid to turn back the white tide. In the coming
year, Tecumseh would join forces with the British.
• The third reason was control of Canada and the Old Northwest. The
British had grudgingly handed over their fort on Mackinac Island at the
end of the American Revolution, but they wanted it back. They maintained
their own garrison nearby on St. Joseph’s Island in Canadian territory.
Further south, U.S. citizens lobbied to invade Canada to seize the country
from the British.
So there you have a snippet of the summer of 1811, with the stage set for
For the Indians living in Northern Michigan, this may have been an idyllic
time before the flood of white settlement and their unfair treaties. The
first white missionary wouldn’t arrive in the Grand Traverse area until 28
years later in 1839; and it wasn’t until 1855 that the first missionary
landed at what is now Petoskey.
At Fort Michilimackinac at what is now Mackinaw City, a small settlement
of traders and their families served the growing commerce of the Great
Meanwhile, on Mackinac Island, the American troops endured the monotony of
life in an obscure outpost: drilling and keeping watch over the Straits,
with their cannon pointed over the waters 150 feet below.
It wasn’t until the following summer that fort commander Lieutenant Porter
Hanks heard alarming reports that a large number of Indians had gathered
at the British fort on St. Joseph’s Island 45 miles away: Sioux from the
upper Mississippi, Menominee and Winnebago warriors from Wisconsin, along
with the region’s Chippewa and Odawa.
How was Lt. Hanks to know that war with Britain had been declared in June
and an American force had already invaded Canada by crossing the Detroit
River some 350 miles to the south? There had been no news from Washington
D.C. of any kind for the past nine months.
He and his men had that revelation on July 17, 1812 when the British and
their Indian allies landed on the north shore of Mackinac Island. That
morning, two British six-pounder cannons were trained on the fort from the
defenseless high ground to its rear. With the woods swarming with 40
British troops, 180 voyageurs and 300 Indians, Lt. Hanks had a bitter
choice: the certain massacre of his garrison of less than 60 men and all
the people of the town -- as had happened at Fort Michilimackinac in 1763
-- or take a chance at surrender in the hope of mercy.
Lt. Hanks and his men surrendered without firing a shot.

Downes’ ebook Planet Backpacker: The Good Life Bumming Around the World
is now available on Kindle and Apple iBooks. With 75 photos from around
the world.

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