Letters 11-23-2015

Cheering From Petoskey While red-eyed rats boil fanatically up from the ancient sewers of Paris to feast on pools of French blood, at the G20 meeting the farcical pied piper of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue thrusts a bony finger at the president of the Russian Federation and yells: “liberté, égalité, fraternité, Clinton, Kerry--Obamaism!”

The Other Mothers And Fathers Regarding the very nice recent article on “The First Lady of Yoga,” I have taken many classes with Sandy Carden, and I consider her to be a great teacher. However, I feel the article is remiss to not even give acknowledgement to other very important yoga influences in northern Michigan...

Drop The Blue Angels The last time I went to the National Cherry Festival, I picked the wrong day. The Blue Angels were forcing everyone to duck and cover from the earsplitting cacophony overhead...

Real Advice For The Sick In the Nov. 16 article “Flu Fighters,” author Kristi Kates fails to mention the most basic tool in our arsenal during Influenza season... the flu vaccine! I understand you might be afraid of being the victim of Jenny McCarthyism, but the science is there...

Keeping Traverse City in the Dark Our environment is our greatest asset. It sustains our lives; it drives our economy. We ignore it at our peril. Northern Michigan Environmental Action Council (NMEAC) has submitted letters of concern to both the city commission and planning commission regarding the proposed 9-story buildings on Pine Street. We have requested an independent environmental assessment with clear answers before a land use permit is granted...

All About Them Another cartoon by Jen Sorensen that brings out the truth! Most of her cartoons are too slanted in a Socialist manner, but when she gets it correct, she hits the nail on the target! “Arizona is the first state to put a 12-month lifetime limit on welfare benefits.” That quote is in the opening panel... 

Unfair To County Employees It appears that the commissioners of Grand Traverse County will seek to remedy a shortfall in the 2016 budget by instituting cuts in expenditures, the most notable the reduction of contributions to various insurance benefits in place for county employees. As one example, the county’s contributions to health insurance premiums will decrease from ten to six percent in 2016. What this means, of course, is that if a county employee wishes to maintain coverage at the current level next year, the employee will have to come up with the difference...

Up, Not Out I would like to congratulate the Traverse City Planning Commission on their decision to approve the River West development. Traverse City will either grow up or grow out. For countless reasons, up is better than out. Or do we enjoy such things as traffic congestion and replacing wooded hillsides with hideous spectacles like the one behind Tom’s West Bay. At least that one is on the edge of town as opposed to in the formerly beautiful rolling meadows of Acme Township...

Lessons In Winning War I am saddened to hear the response of so many of legislators tasked with keeping our country safe. I listen and wonder if they know what “winning” this kind of conflict requires or even means? Did we win in Korea? Did we win in Vietnam? Are we winning in Afghanistan? How is Israel winning against the Palestinians? Will they “take out” Hezbollah...

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The Attack on Freedom of Religion

George Foster - July 25th, 2002
I can still remember how much I looked forward to the Pledge of Allegiance in Mrs. Schultz‘s first grade class.
As soon as the last bell rang and the recording of attendance was completed, we all stood up like miniature soldiers with our hands over our hearts ready to do our duty as citizens of the greatest country in the world. The instant Mrs. Schultz turned her back on the class to face the flag and begin the reciting, though, all hell broke loose.
“I pledge allegiance to the flag...“ On cue, many of my classmates pulled out milk carton straws to pummel each other with spitballs that left nasty welts on our arms and faces. Being caught in the crossfire of these gooey little missiles could be fearsome. Sometimes a headshot could even smack a victim in the eye or draw blood. It was great fun.
“one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.“ By the time Mrs. Schultz turned around toward the students, each of us was back in our original pose, gazing respectfully at Old Stars and Stripes.
Despite my seeming lack of patriotism in first grade, I favor recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance in our public schools every morning - but without the word God inserted. As a lifelong Christian, I feel like the only non-atheist citizen of the United States who agrees with the decision of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco to ban God from the pledge.
Politicians have been dubiously tripping over themselves to appear more outraged than their opponents. “Nuts“, was the way Tom Daschle described the decision. “Ridiculous“, according to President Bush. There isn‘t any question the decision will be reversed if public opinion has anything to do with it.
George W. Bush also had this to say, “The decision points up the fact that we need common-sense judges who understand that our rights were derived from God.“ Huh? Mr. President, our legal rights come from the people as set forth in the preamble of the Constitution (“We, the people of the United States of America, etc.“), not God. What we really need are common-sense presidents who will take time to read the Constitution.
The Constitution purposely omits the word God in its entirety including amendments as the founding fathers were loath to blur the separation of church and state. The only mention of religion comes in the First Amendment where it states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion...“ Bush‘s misguided notion that legal rights come from God is probably a reference to the Declaration of Independence. Thomas Jefferson‘s writings of our Creator and liberty in the Declaration may inspire us, but that document has no legal authority in the United States - zero.
If Bush is correct that our rights were derived from God, we really need a divine authority such as the Bible to replace the Constitution. Since it might be difficult to determine whether we were a Catholic or Protestant nation, we could follow the British example and officially become an Anglican country (oops, I almost forgot - religious intolerance is why many of our ancestors left England in the first place). Maybe Osama bin Laden had the right idea after all: the Koran could also be a suitable authority in a theocracy form of U.S. government, ending most denominational squabbling.
Seriously, if you believe in God (polls show 93% of us do), you should join me in supporting removal of God from our pledge. The court made the right decision: religion should not be promoted anywhere in public schools or government institutions. Any attempts by government to put God in the public domain, to fund religion with tax dollars, and - yes, even inserting God in our Pledge of Allegiance are all acts of hostility against religion and should be rebuked. Such misguided interference chips away at arguably the most fundamental principal of our nation‘s existence: separation of church and state.
Even while spending significant time dodging spitballs in elementary school, we children knew inherently the importance of our country‘s flag. As a child, I also knew that my religious education came from my family and attending weekly Sunday school. Forcing the word God in the pledge is unconstitutional, goes against the wishes of our founding fathers, and is just plain wrong.
When public schools begin leading our children in religion, the day has come for Christians, Jews, and Muslims alike to find another school or bring their kids home. Tolerance for all beliefs in God and opposition to government mandated religion is why our founding fathers fought to the death to launch this great nation.

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