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 · The Best in Books for 2002 - Part...
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The Best in Books for 2002 - Part I

Nancy Sundstrom - December 26th, 2002
What a great year for books.
For both fiction and non-fiction categories and virtually every other genre, and whether it was an established author or a novice, 2002 was marked by literature that was nothing short of outstanding, with some of the selections being benchmarks. As the year comes to an end, it has become an Express tradition to take a look back at the best of the best, at least in the hungry eyes of this reviewer.
In the last two year-end editions of Express, we’ll take a look back at my top ten picks of the year, not in any particular order. They reflect the books I think back on the most and often compare other works to, and they also tend to be ones that I either recommended often or heard back that others had enjoyed immensely. If you’re still doing a bit of last minute shopping or putting together a reading list, consider the books here. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

Atonement by Ian McEwan
The Booker Prize-nominated “Atonement“ was McEwan’s first novel since his marvelous “Amsterdam“ took home the prize in 1998, and was the second book of the new millennium, following “The Corrections“ by Jonathan Franzen, to truly deserve the label “masterpiece.“
This elegant, engrossing novel about childhood, family relationships, vulnerability, love, class, war, redemption, shame, and forgiveness was snubbed for the prize, but will no doubt be referred to in years to come as one that played a key role in carrying on the rich tradition of British literature. The book is a knockout, a superior work taking McEwan’s considerable talents to new levels and demonstrating that he can work on the sort of expansive canvas and with the frighteningly accurate glimpse into humanity that Franzen did with “The Corrections.“ Once you wade into the remarkable, unpredictable, and moving world of “Atonement,“ you won’t soon want to leave because there is so much to marvel at and savor.

Blessings by Anna Quindlen
It has been a pleasure to follow the evolution of Quindlen’s writing career, as she’s become successively more graceful, sharp-witted, and confident with each new effort in her versatile oeuvre.
“Blessings“ is about exactly that, and much more in the form of the remarkable nature of things that become blessings in our lives, particularly when they are unexpected, perhaps even unwanted. In it, a newborn foundling has been abandoned by her parents in the garage of a vast estate owned by a cranky, wealthy, 80-year-old, widowed matriarch named Lydia Blessing. The baby is discovered in a box by Lydia’’s handyman, a young ex-con named Skip Cuddy, who, for reasons even he doesn’t understand, wants to keep her. He does so, secretly, for a few days, when Lydia becomes involved, and against her better judgement, Lydia decides to assist him in the effort. For a time, Lydia, Sip, and the baby they’ve named Faith are a family, something which redefines who each one of them are. “Blessings“ goes into new territory for Quindlen, which makes for a wonderful reading experience.

The Crimson Petal and the White by Michael Faber
Faber’s third book has been touted as “the first great 19th-century novel of the 21st century,“ a claim on which he delivers the goods. Bursting with life, this panoramic 800-page-plus story focuses on Sugar, a 19-year-old prostitute in 1870‘s London who aspires to bring both her mind and body out of the gutter. Something of a prisoner in a brothel run by Mrs, Castaway, a character so evil and frightening that she gives a catalogue of Dickens characters of the same ilk a run for their money, and then some. Red-haired Sugar is as intelligent and well-read as she is wanton and sensual. She has a reputation for being able to service men in any way they would like (and a fair chunk of the tale is given to those explanations), but much of her “spare“ time is spent writing a violent, sexually explicit diatribe against the men who use and then discard her.
At the book’s onset, we’re introduced to the teeming underbelly of London life by an unnamed narrator, who seductively pulls the reader into the world of sin, squalor, decadence, and decay in which the tale is set by the warning, “Watch your step.“ He’s right. “The Crimson Petal and the White“ is a distinctive, enormous accomplishment.

The Last Place by Laura Lippman
A first-rate thriller, this is the seventh book in a mystery series about Baltimore, MD detective Tess Monaghan from real-life Baltimore Sun reporter Lippman. The strongest asset of her well-conceived series is savvy, wise-cracking, independent former reporter turned private investigator Monaghan.
Seven must be a lucky number for Lippman, because this is hands-down the best effort in the thriller genre since “The Emperor of Ocean Park“ and “The Beach House“ earlier this summer. The author has clearly not been content to rest upon her previous successes and adds a number of new twists in this outing, most notably, that heroine Tess is being watched from the very beginning of the tale by stalker she’ll soon encounter in a game that gets more dangerous by the minute. This is one of those stories whose topicality is a hot button because it feels coaxed out of, or a jarring reflection of the disturbingly more frequent headlines in today’s papers about the abduction of young women. You won’t be able to put it down.

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
Sebold, who authored the disturbing rape memoir “Lucky,“ has crafted a remarkable and haunting debut novel in “The Lovely Bones,“ an artistic high-wire act that succeeds triumphantly, in spite of the considerable risks it takes.
This is a coming-of-age tale, but with none of the trademarks one might anticipate in that it is about the murder of a fourteen-year-old girl named Susie. As we meet her, her death and transition into heaven have already taken place. From above, in a place where “life is a perpetual yesterday,“ Susie narrates the story of her life and demise, and keeps watch over her grieving family friends, as well as the ruthless serial killer and the world weary detective trying to solve the case.
The book is a page-turner and the action has the momentum of a river current that can’t be slowed. The resolution is more strong than sentimental, making “The Lovely Bones“ a minor miracle.

Coming next week in Express: The Best in Books for 2002, Part II.

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