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 · Letters · Letters 2/20/03
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Letters 2/20/03

Various - February 20th, 2003
War for oil

It‘s becoming obvious that the Bush administration is intent on having its war on Iraq no matter what: no matter that most of the world, including Iraq‘s neighbors, oppose the war; no matter that, at this point, the weapons inspectors have found nothing of substance.
The most striking aspect of the administration‘s push for war is the hypocrisy of its logic: The U.S. will attack Iraq because it MAY have weapons of mass destruction, while at the same time the U.S. is holding the world‘s largest stockpile of these very weapons.
Is it any wonder that so much of the world opposes the war or that so many Americans conclude it‘s really all about oil.
Two facts come together to support that belief. First (sadly for its people), Iraq has one of the world‘s largest oil reserves. If no oil was there, no one would likely give a care about Saddam Hussein.
The CIA has acknowledged they have no evidence that Iraq has any nuclear capabilities. Yet neighboring Pakistan, run by a military strongman, does have nuclear weapons and, in fact, has had frightening nuclear standoffs with India. Why are there no plans to attack Pakistan, or even India? I believe the answer is oil - or rather the lack of it.
Second, many members of the Bush administration from the president on down have backgrounds in, or close ties to, the oil industry. Gaining control of Iraq‘s oil reserves by American energy corporations seems to override all else. It is a conflict-of-interest of massive proportions.
Prior to the Gulf War, Iraq was a first-world country with an enviable universal health care and educational system. Following Desert Storm and the targeted bombing of the civilian infrastructure, along with the devastating effects of sanctions, Iraq is now, at best, a third-world country.
The high incidence of illness in American veterans of the Gulf War from the depleted-uranium shells used by the U.S. is magnified many times over in the Iraqi people.
Incidents of cancer and leukemia have skyrocketed and, because of the sanctions, critically needed medicines and treatments are commonly not available.
The quote from former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright comes to mind: When asked by Lesley Stahl of 60 Minutes if the suffering caused by sanctions, including the death by illness and hunger of about half a million Iraqi children was “worth the price,“ Albright replied: “I think this is a very hard choice, but the price... we think the price is worth it.“
Iraq is now a devastated country, a devastated people. The last thing they need is to be attacked by the world‘s most powerful nation.
Think of the suffering and death of innocents, of our own soldiers, the billions of dollars that could be used for good and constructive purposes for our own people, our own economy.
All of this waste and destruction is supposedly to dispose of ONE 68-year-old man who happens to have lymphatic cancer.
Will the nation‘s real conservatives stand up in protest!

John Brabenec • Northport

Powell‘s dubious evidence

In Secretary of State Powell‘s speech to the United Nations he presumed to give incontrovertible evidence of Iraq‘s failure to comply with UN resolutions. As far as I could tell he provided little convincing evidence. Mr. Powell provided satellite photographs and gave his own interpretations to those photographs, where nothing out of the ordinary was evident. If they can take pictures of the weapons, why can‘t the UN inspectors find them? He substantiated these findings by citing testimony of defectors, though how their testimony was obtained or who they are is left unknown. He also provides an illustration of what a mobile weapons transport might look like as evidence.
Mr. Powell states that both intelligence agencies and inspectors have provided ample evidence of Iraq‘s possession of Weapons of Mass Destruction: nuclear, biological and chemical, as well as establishing a link between Hussein and al Qaeda.
The CIA and other intelligence sources have openly disputed this, saying that the administration has distorted their intelligence for political benefit, and cited the ideological conflict between the ruling Ba‘ath party and al Qaeda. The inspectors have reported no evidence of nuclear capabilities, and Hans Blix has stated that there is no apparent cause for war. The Bush administration has both distorted the inspector‘s findings and undermined them when they ask for more time to complete their work.
As far as a link with terrorists, the finger could be more easily pointed in the direction of Saudi Arabia, where many of the 9/11 attackers did come from. A second double standard is apparent in North Korea‘s use of nukes as the “ultimate trump card.“ Mr. Powell tries his best to present an unlikely threat as imminent, conjuring fears of the worst that could happen. At the same time a massive preemptive assault is under way, which will result in a humanitarian catastrophe according to UN estimates. This is not in theory, but in the real world and very soon, but a peaceful diplomatic solution could result in a favorable situation for both sides, and ease tensions throughout this region and around the world.

Cliff Kubiak • via email

Cartoonist on the ropes

This is a real bummer, but...
I have cancer.
Monday I worked all afternoon on some bookshelves in the living room. Took a shower and to my alarm noticed a prune-sized swelling on the side of my neck. We decided to go to the emergency room just to play it safe. A CAT scan later and the doc came in with the bomb. A 2-inch mass in my chest. Probable lymphoma.
The good news: It‘s very treatable. It‘s Hodgkin‘s, the easiest to treat.
Chemo, yes... and maybe radiation. But I‘m relatively young, extremely healthy otherwise (so the docs tell me) and in good shape. We also caught it early.
The bad news, of course: it‘s f**king cancer.
I‘m ok. It was a blow, of course, especially coming out of the blue. But I‘m not in despair. I‘ll start the treatment program, get better and deal with it.
I‘ll keep working and the strip will continue. I‘ll try to build a stockpile of strips that I can dip into during “bad“ weeks. I may not be able to be as topical as I would like. For example, that‘s why last week you got a strip about friggin‘ Haitian shoe sweatshops instead of something more relevant. I was being wheeled about on a gurney when I should‘ve been home drawing. Hopefully, I‘ll get into a routine of work and treatment... and you‘ll get the same semi-professional cartoons you‘ve all come to
expect from me. By summer I hope to be healthy and cancer free.
Just wanted to be up front about it.
And now... I‘m going to go finish those damn bookshelves.

derf • THE CITY comic strip

Media failing its role

I just finished reading a letter in your January 23 edition of the Northern Express by Dave Forbush. I generally agree with his observation that our criminal justice system does little more than foster even further alienation and antisocial behavior. Prisons are the most degrading and dehumanizing institutions known to humanity. Yes some people do belong there, but many do not and find themselves incarcerated because of inadequate counsel, prejudiced judges, and police and prosecutors who will do anything, legal or otherwise, to obtain a conviction.
One factor left out in the Forbush letter was the role of the news media in all of this. Isn‘t the news media supposed to act as some sort of restraint upon the powers of government? Yet we seem to be living in an age where the mainstream press seems to view its role as merely another branch of government.
I happened to turn on Fox News the other morning only to see one of their reporters at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, scaling down a wall, supposedly to demonstrate how our invincible military will quickly roll over any opposition. A few minutes later, again on Fox, a discussion ensued with panelists from the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank. This “interview“ quickly became a free-for-all with the journalists joining in a chorus of accolades for the United States military and how all of the world‘s opposition to this looming war will quickly disappear once good ole Uncle Sam distributes the booty from Iraq.
Any pretense at journalistic integrity or independence was quickly overcome with a boisterous frat boy party atmosphere. I was embarrassed not only as a viewer but as an American. While this particular episode concerned an issue of foreign policy, everything is ultimately linked. Every political, legal, or social issue is impacted by this rampant conservatism among the contemporary mainstream press.
Am I the only one bothered by this seeming lack of journalistic independance? Where is the mainstream press when members of either law enforcement, prosecutors, or members of the judiciary get out of line? We don‘t need to live in a nation where the line between the news media and those in law enforcement is too blurred. Freedom and the rule of law requires some element of distance.
Most mainstream media outlets will never tell you about the crooked cop, or the judge who is corrupt, or the prosecutor who targets blacks, gays, or others who are generally powerless to defend themselves. It‘s always the “criminal,“ meaning the average citizen who is the target. We have already lost much of our freedom due to this attitude. There are very few instances in which a warrant is required to search a person‘s home, car, or even bodily cavities. All an FBI agent needs to search your home or confiscate your computer is some vague suspicion that a crime might possibly be committed. The traditional legal standard of probable cause that a crime has been committed has generally been abolished. This may seem like semantics to those without a legal background, but it makes a great difference whether the state can invade your privacy based upon a mere suspicion of criminal activity, or actual probable cause.
Freedom and the rule of law require that those entering the field of journalism do so with pure motives and not a desire to exact ideological revenge upon the powerless. It seems that we are witnessing, in our time, a rabid resurgence of a pseudo fascist mentality.

Brian Morgan • Gaylord
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