Letters

Letters 8-18-2014

The Climate Clarified

Climate change isn’t an easy subject. A class I’m taking compared it to medicine in a way that was helpful for me: Climate scientists are like planetary physicians. Our understanding of medicine is incomplete, but what we know is useful...

Beware Non-Locally Grown

The article “Farm Fresh?” couldn’t be any more true than exactly stated. As an avid shopper at the local farm markets I want to know “exactly” what I am buying, from GMO free to organic or not organic, sprayed or not sprayed and with what...

Media Bias Must End

I wish to thank Joel Weberman for his letter “Seeking Balanced Israel Coverage.” The pro-Palestinian bias includes TV news coverage...

Proud of My President

The world is a mess. According to many conservative voices, it would not be in such a mess if Obama was not the president. I am finally understanding that the problem with our president is that he is too thoughtful, too rational, too realistic, too inclined to see things differently and change his mind, too compassionate to be the leader of a free world...

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Monday, November 10, 2008

Letters 11/10/08

Letters Racism in TC
I was saddened and dismayed to read about the feelings and actions of the employees of Hampel‘s Key and Lockshop. I was, however, happy to see that the news was recognized as important enough to be reported by the Record-Eagle.
We need to know who our neighbors are. It made me sick to my stomach to know that people with that kind of proud hatred are living in the same community with me.
I can only hope that people with such ignorant racist attitudes are still cognitively able to learn the errors of their thinking. I will place my hope and my heart in the idea that someday, Hampel‘s and their loyal customers will be given the capacity for increased knowledge, understanding, and respect.

Robin Tilwick • TC
Angry veterans
Just a comment and rebuttal to the decision of Hampel‘s gun and and key shop to fly the flag inverted last week. A coworker came in Friday telling me of his father‘s total disgust with the decision of flying the flag this way. He is a WW II vet and fought for peoples‘ rights, but not this blatant disrespect.
I too am a vet and so are my two brothers and my Dad. We served to protect the rights of people like this, but this isn’t a right that Hampel‘s has as stated in the code for the flying the flag.
It usually used as a distress signal or call for help. In this case, the owner is probably not pleased with the current state of affairs: the war, the economy, whatever.
The upside down U.S. flag is an official signal of distress. It is not meant to be, and is not officially recognized as any type of disrespect when so displayed for the right reasons.
If the employee of Hampel‘s would like to be considered a traitor to America, he can continue his actions, but otherwise stop and respect our flag. Your opinion is allowed, but don’t bring our great flag into this. Many men have died to keep that flag flying in the right manner.

Joe Deater • via email
 
Monday, November 3, 2008

Letters 11/3/08

Letters Those awful liberals...
They would actually spend money helping people instead of killing people.
A pundit was predicting what would happen if the Democrats gained control of Congress and the White House. He said they would cut defense spending and increase spending on social programs.
Now, isn’t that the worst thing that could happen? Helping the average citizen and cut defense when the Martians are coming, the Martians are coming?

Richard R Riker • Mackinaw City

Letter to Obama
Let me be candid. After all the campaigning, I still don’t know you very well. You are still coming off as advocating intrusive and paternalistic national government with little faith in free enterprise or belief in personal responsibility and accountability.
I worry that your view of self reliance evolved out of your long-time membership in a Chicago church that embraced Black Liberation Theology which perpetuates a victim mentality long ago abandoned by most black Americans and other minority groups who are doing well. I worry about your belief that the role of government is to redistribute income through personal and corporate taxes.
You have not expressed much faith in or respect for the private sector as the real source of the nation’s wealth. The only incentive you have promised to encourage national corporations to locate or expand here is a threat of punitive tax policies. Read Thomas Friedman’s book The World Is Flat to understand we cannot unilaterally establish the level of competitive wages or total cost in a world market.
No matter how much you despise corporate America, companies always have choices of where to locate. You will not be able to build a wall around the country with artificial constraints to keep jobs in the U.S. We will only keep what we earn and deserve in a world of vicious competition.
Much of what you have said and not said, as well as what you have done and not done, undermines confidence in your being the president we need.

Dick Selvala • Cross Village


End suffering: vote yes
As an 18-year-old first-time voter and a Crohn’s disease patient of six years I am urging all Michigan residents to vote yes on proposals 1 and 2.
Proposal 1 is for legalizing marijuana for medical purposes and Proposal 2 is for lifting a Michigan constitutional ban on the research of stem cells or the use of stem cells in Michigan. Both of these proposals would offer relief to patients who have been suffering through diseases such as leukemia, Parkinson’s disease, and those affected by Crohn’s disease. Legalizing these methods of treatments would offer patients hope by giving them a new treatment when all other common medicines and treatments have failed them.
The people who want these proposals legalized are not immoral or “pot heads” -- they just want something to make their bodies healthy again so they can aspire to the same health standards of a person not having these diseases.
Michigan has a chance to help end the suffering of these patients by voting yes on proposals 1 and 2. Let‘s end the suffering and give them hope on November 4th.

Matt Tomlinson • Grawn
 
Monday, October 27, 2008

Letters 10/27/08

Letters Teens & sex
I read the beautifully written short article by Jessica Schrader on Kids & the truth about sex ed. This particular subject is especially important to me. I am a child of a teen pregnancy and have a broad understanding of the struggles a teen can have raising a child. I also have witnessed many of my teen friends growing up dealing with STD and abortion issues. This is a personal and very public issue.
To provide some factual insight to Jessica’s point; the Advocates for youth website provides the following profound information:
“Each year, U.S. teens experience as many as 850,000 pregnancies, and youth under age 25 experience about 9.1 million sexually transmitted infections (STIs). By age 18, 70 percent of U.S. females and 62 percent of U.S. males have initiated vaginal sex.
Comprehensive sex education is effective at assisting young people to make healthy decisions about sex and to adopt healthy sexual behaviors.No abstinence-only-until-marriage program has been shown to help teens delay the initiation of sex or to protect themselves when they do initiate sex.Yet, the U.S. government has spent over one billion dollars supporting abstinence-only-until-marriage programs. Although the U.S. government ignores it, adolescents have a fundamental human right to accurate and comprehensive sexual health information.”
I feel that this subject could use some dedicated coverage for the health of our society. I would encourage the Northern Express to do so.

Jenn Craven • Lake Ann

Teens & responsibility
This is a response to Jessica Schrader’s article favoring teaching junior and senior high school students the how to’s of birth control. There are several reasons why this is a bad idea.
To understand these reasons, you may want to consider something else we tell teens to abstain from with less than ideal results: consuming alcohol. I’m guessing that in their health classes teens are not instructed in how to drink responsibly. If we did teach that, we would be sending the message that we expect them to break the law and drink alcohol before age 21. We would also be wasting our breath because research has shown that due to biological and developmental factors, teens are not generally capable of applying the self-restraint that would allow them to drink responsibly.
In the case of teen sex, the responsible and self-disciplined teens will wait. The less responsible and self-disciplined will have sex, but be the least likely to successfully use birth control even if educated in the greatest of detail.
Every variation on sex education has been tried in different parts of the country and different times, including handing out free condoms to students. There’s no clear evidence that unwed pregnancy or disease rates are lower where sex education has been most explicit.
The people of Michigan have decided through the political process that they want to send an unequivocal message to young people that they are not mature enough for sex. Those who decide otherwise have easy access to birth control information on the internet in the unlikely event they are inclined to be responsible.

Nancy Brimhall, RN • Alden

 
Monday, October 20, 2008

Letters 10/20/08

Letters Pollution affects us all
I read your article about the Alba well with great interest. My heart goes out to the people at CMS Energy who must incur an estimated $140,000,000 to clean up Bay Harbor. No company would knowingly cause such a problem.
Someone once asked Mother Theresa “who causes the problems in the world?” She replied “I do.” We are all polluters. Any woman who uses nail polish and especially nail polish remover is a polluter. If we multiplied our toenails with all the toenails in America it would cost more than $140,000,000 to clean up the waste if it was all dumped in one place.
I am disappointed to learn how many people think Alba, Bay Harbor and Petoskey are separate problems. We are all one community or one ohana as they say in Hawaii. Let’s think of the problem as a great big “PetAlba Bay” problem.
I am concerned about the effect Bay Harbor has on Petoskey water since two or three of the Petoskey wells are located at Bay Harbor. I checked into it and learned that no organic compounds are being tested for as recommended in the “EPA National Water Quality Standards 2006” report. I also learned Petoskey water samples are being taken downstream and not at the wellhead. That’s what a hydrologist and an environmental scientist who used to work for Dow Chemical told me.
Many people say Petoskey‘s water tastes bad. One person told me it aggravates Crohn‘s disease. Another said two nurses whispered to him: “Stop drinking Petoskey water,” when he was a patient. He did and got better.
There is a simple solution. Homes can install a reverse osmosis system which removes 99 percent of the contaminents or buy bottled water. Petoskey‘s Big Boy has installed a reverse osmosis system and Grain Train is installing a system so that water can be bought in reusable polycarbonate bottles. It would be wonderful if we could stop burying our head in the sand and just do what we can to improve our health.

Irene Parker • Petoskey

Dirty political trick
Hey, Macomb Republicans and their chair James Carabelli: kick ‘em while they’re down!
Yours was the first attempt to get rid of non-Republican votes in Michigan, disenfranchising your neighbors who lost their homes to foreclosure and no longer live at that address.
Most foreclosures happened because of Republican Congress’ dogged deregulation over the years, with considerable help from corporate greed. Now, Macomb County tried to disenfranchise those foreclosed with its “Lose your home; lose your vote” policy.
Great, dirty political ploy! Those foreclosed owners would be voting for Obama/Biden, because under their plans, 95 percent of American families would get a tax cut and a moratorium on further foreclosures, which would provide some breathing space for the little guy. The Obama campaign and the Democratic National Committee brought a lawsuit against Macomb Republicans and others like them country-wide. Now what?
Hey, we move it up a notch from a county party to a state official, Michigan Secretary of State: Republican Terry Lynn Land. She initiated her illegal voter purging program to disenfranchise thousands more. That brought out the ACLU to sue an elected official to make her do her job honestly.
Last week, Judge Stephen J. Murphy III found that Land had violated a federal law when she purged 1,500 newly registered voters this year because their mailed voter registration cards were returned undelivered. Those voters and any others since 2006 purged from the rolls for the same reason must be reinstated, because of the “motor voter” act. That federal law prevents such purging for two future general federal elections.
When the Washington Post contacted Land, neither she nor her spokesperson was available for comment.
Butt out, dirty tricksters. Let the votes fall where they may.

Patti Fox • Bellaire
 
Monday, October 13, 2008

Letters 10/13/08

Letters Sign of the times
I recently installed a political campaign sign near my home and within 10 days it was uprooted and tossed aside six times. Then it was stolen.
I realize this is bound to happen here and there, now and then, as election day draws near; and I know that people generally tend to shrug it off as something they can’t do much about anyway. But I sincerely commiserate with the people who are subjected to these callous intrusions into their lives; and I would like to address a few pertinent remarks to the misguided individuals who perpetrate them.
Attention smug, skulking minions of fear, ignorance and greed who under cover of darkness and at strategically calculated hours of the day violate our constitutional right to free speech and thumb their noses at the judicious laws of the state by vandalizing and removing lawfully placed political campaign signs: You are committing a crime.
Do you think that you’re cleverly manipulating “the system” to your advantage? Do you flatter yourselves with the notion that you’re gallantly exercising your freedom and patriotism? If so, you are deluding yourselves. In reality, you do nothing to further your political ambitions and only succeed in generating resentment, suspicion and mistrust in the hearts and minds of your neighbors. Is this your idea of the American spirit? Your self-indulgent, heedless violation of our right to free speech isn’t “freedom” -- it’s nothing more than contemptible bullying.
And “patriotism”? Someone, please, open a window! Your actions blatantly demonstrate that you have no sense of fair play and no real understanding of or respect for the just and humane principles upon which a civilized society is founded. You dishonor the true patriots who dedicate themselves to safeguarding and promoting those principles. And you abuse the better part of your own selves. (Imagine the ludicrous, feeble-minded, puerile image you project by sneaking around and attacking campaign signs!)
Come on people. Stop what you’re doing. Think. Respect the rights and dignity of others. Restore your own dignity by mustering up the moral courage and decency it takes to return those signs in their original condition to the places they were rightfully intended to be.

David Vincent • via email

 
Monday, October 6, 2008

Letters 10/6/08

Letters Who‘s to blame?
The consensus is that the crisis in financial markets relates to the sub-prime mortgage scandal. Until mortgages are under control, even the Fed cannot bail us out and return prosperity in America.
But no one is addressing the cause, or fixing the blame for the crisis. That is a bad mistake. People who get caught doing wrong always say, “Don’t look back; let’s just fix the problem.”
Blame is important because it acknowledges that a right way of doing things still exists, as opposed to what happened here. If there is no blame, then the public gets the mistaken impression that “the system” is flawed. Instead of focusing the problem where it belongs – on the crooks who created and then milked a disaster – the public sees the entire system as at fault, and takes money out of the system, further damaging it.
I‘m reminded of something I read earlier this year: a February 14 article, “Predatory Lenders’ Partner in Crime,” in the Washington Post by then-Attorney General Eliot Spitzer.
Spitzer, who was later caught in a scandal, wrote that the sub-prime crisis, which caused the current banking crisis, was not caused by a mysterious, insoluble flaw in the American system. It was caused by predatory lending – bankers and mortgage companies enticed people to borrow money without the slightest ability to pay it back. Then they sold the mortgages to others, who invested in mortgage-backed securities.
As of 2003 – years ago – 50 state attorney generals filed suit or brought civil claims against subprime lenders to stop the gathering disaster. Fifty state attorney generals saw the risk of this crisis.
The Bush administration – the “partner in crime” – forced the 50 states to stop their civil actions. The Bush administration turned loose the speculators and manipulators, and sided with financial rogues against the American public.
The financial crisis that threatens the world did not come out of nowhere. Real, live bad people caused this to happen. They hurt real, live Americans trying to make a living and save for retirement. They hurt, for example, local hospitals that invest savings and provide medical help to the community. They hurt school teachers; they hurt yard workers; they hurt Republicans and Democrats alike.
And the Bush administration intentionally assisted in this crime. As of 2003 the states were trying to stop this disaster. The Bush administration actively prevented lawyers from saving American citizens from this financial disaster – a disaster my children will be paying for over the next 50 years.
My message may be a little strange, but here it is – The American system is a good system that has worked for many decades. It has not failed. What failed is a corrupt presidential administration.

Grant W. Parsons • TC

 
Monday, September 29, 2008

Letters 9/29/08

Letters Supporting Sarah

Here we go – Wayne Erreca and Robert Downes prove Sarah Palin has something going for her and is vice presidential material. At first, reading their vicious attack, I was offended, then I had to chuckle as she really has the Democrats scrambling to cut her down. Way to go Sarah.

Donna Edgerton • Indian River

Republican Doubletalk

I am sick of one political party claiming the title “pro-life,” as if the rest of us are “anti-life.” What about “life” after birth?
What party lied to trick us into a war that has killed and maimed hundreds of thousands of God’s children?
What party is so protective of big business and the insurance industry that millions are left with poor coverage or none at all?
What party tells people: “Pull yourselves up by your bootstraps?,” “We’ll give you a hand up, not a hand out?,” then they create business incentives for companies to outsource American jobs to other countries?
What party justifies tax breaks to the wealthy, telling us it’ll create jobs…the money will “trickle down” to us? In reality, they invest in jobs overseas where labor is cheap!
Which party promises tax cuts, never reminding us about our huge debt and enormously expensive war? They don’t tell us they’ll pay for those by cutting social programs such as Social Security and Medicare? What about our crumbling infrastructure?
Which party claims “family values” while members of their party prove repeatedly that their morals are no different than anyone else’s?
Which party has created a climate of greed allowing millions of Americans to lose their homes?
Which party has denied the need for clean, renewable energy (benefiting not only the health of the environment, but human health), because of their connection to the oil industry?
My point is that all life counts! Our future depends on this election. We need to recognize all this kissing up to average, working class Americans for what it is… Republican desperation to get votes! Study the issues. Forget the emotion, gender, race and personalities. Vote on the issues that will impact us and our children’s lives for years to come.

Barbara Bernier • Manistee
 
Monday, September 22, 2008

Letters 9/22/08

Letters Our world standing
As a long-time visitor to Northern Michigan from the United Kingdom, I find visits during election years fascinating. None more so than this one.
Candidates may be ranting on about jobs, the economy, education or security, but presidential elections are also about America’s standing in the world. The last eight years have been a disaster.
It is shocking to see how reviled and ridiculed this country is around the world. That’s not healthy for the U.S. or the planet as a whole.
In a recent BBC poll conducted in 22 countries, Barak Obama was favored by a margin of 4-to-1 to become president. Not only would a McCain presidency smack of business as usual, but in his choice of running mate, the derision has reached new heights.
One can smugly declare that this does not matter since these people have no vote in the elections anyway. But the major issues facing our planet will only be resolved if we all work together to resolve them. And that will not happen if the United States continues to be disliked and mistrusted, let alone a continuous laughing stock.

Alan Deverell • TC

Exxon outrage
I saw a news story about how Exxon had made a record profit, one of their highest yet. We have paid outrageous prices at the pump for them to make this profit.
We have paid higher prices in grocery stores, retail stores, and restaurants so Exxon could make a huge profit. We have paid so they could celebrate their good fortune while record numbers fill local food banks and thousands of people are losing their homes because they can’t make ends meet.
I think it is long past time we stand up and let Exxon know this kind of business practice is not acceptable in America. It is time we stop complaining about gas prices and do something about it
Plan your shopping and work to minimize what time you spend driving, start walking whenever possible, use the bus system, ride a bike, car pool to work... do whatever you can to reduce the amount of gas you buy. Shop stations not owned by Exxon. If enough people follow through with this, it will send a very loud message through reduced profits: that doing business at the expense of the American people doesn’t work!

Peggy Zinn
via email
 
Monday, September 15, 2008

Letters 9/15/08

Letters Palin: more of the same
Who is Sarah Palin? Her nomination came like a sniper shot from nowhere, and Republican assurances that their private “due diligence” constitutes investigation is laughable.
The vetting process is crucial when the primary candidate is 72 years old. Their cavalier attitude may be emblematic of another “bums‘ rush” for the White House as conceived by Karl Rove.
Aside from the age and gender differences, I see few moderating distinctions between the Bush administration and this Republican proposal. We know that McCain voted with Bush 90% of the time during the past eight years, an indication of his presidency, but what if Palin outlives him?
President Palin would oppose abortion even in the case of rape or incest; believes that creationism should be taught in schools; does not believe humans affect global warming; actually sued the Bush administration for calling Polar Bears an endangered species; supported right-wing extremist Pat Buchanan for president in 2000; believes in a “Big Oil First” energy policy; supports the war; and she even received praise from Rush Limbaugh. This is not change.
It’s odd when a candidate touts their religiosity on a platform of “change.” Frankly, I don’t think anything new has come from religion since the Bronze Age. Change is not accepted within the evangelical realm unless it is to “change” someone else back to a 3,000-year-old sense of morality. A world where scientific inquiry was met with torture, where most sexual sins were punished by death, and when children were sold into slavery. A horrific return to the superstitious world where human sacrifice is rationalized into an “expression of love” for the purpose of placating an angry God is recidivism. It is not change.
Will the Alaskan Governor‘s foreign policy simply be big oil‘s wish list? It was. And, this is change?

Tim Wiley • TC

 
Monday, September 8, 2008

Letters 9/8/08

Letters A dangerous choice
In the midst of all the hype and make-believe over Sarah Palin, the idea of John McCain as decision maker shows with great clarity. His radical choice of VP has seriously dangerous possibilities. If she were to be required to step up to the task of president, the outcome would be horrendous at best.
This woman is under investigation and has ties with an anti-American group in Alaska. Who in their right mind would choose her as a running mate? Nobody.
I am sorry, but I can’t vote for a man solely because he was a war hero. He is no more so than any of the thousands of others who served in Vietnam many of whom gave much more than he did.
The Republicans have a long history of twisting and ignoring the truth without regard for the future of our country.America can’t stand four more years of Bush’s failed policies. Because I love America, I will vote against McCain.

Darrell Carlisle • TC

The pitbull in lipstick
If elected, John McCain and his VP “pitbull” in lipstick will swing our nation so far to the right, it’ll make Bush’s administration appear liberal in comparison.
A few journalist say: “He intends to deliver a new Republican Party to the people.” New? They’ll still be about the rich getting richer, making war against others for the good of Wall Street, robbing women of their rights, refusing proper healthcare for the under-privileged, securing a dominant foot-hold in the Middle East, and whatever ragged relationship we still have with Russia will be reduced to a block of ice. Voters should look beneath the skin and not be easily influenced by cleverly scripted campaign speeches delivered to McCain’s hand by one of Bush’s writers.

Wayne Erreca • TC

A feel-good moment
I was in Denver last week, in the stadium with 70,000 people, wearing my tri-colored hat, waving my flag, chanting “Yes we can,” clapping rhythmically, sharing hopes for the future.
Well, I wasn’t really there, but I was in the Antrim delegation (complete with tall signs designating our space) in the jam-packed State Theatre in Traverse City, watching the historic activity on the enormous screen, and it sure seemed that we were in Denver.
At first we hesitated about applauding people who couldn’t hear us or leaping up with our Obama signs, which only our audience in the theater could see. That hesitation was short-lived.
Michael Moore repeated that the State Theatre belongs to the community – for the viewing of the Metropolitan Opera, for high school football tournaments, for events like the final night of the 2008 Democratic Convention, and the final night of the Republican Convention.
On the way home, our carload of delegates identified our favorite moments. We all agreed that the Teamster from Detroit, the brow-striking woman from Ohio, the bubbly teacher from New Mexico, and the rest of that group of people just like us finished up on one giant high note of the evening. The plaid-shirted, life-long Republican Barney Smith from Indiana brought down both houses with his stern-faced comment: “I want a government that pays attention to Barney Smith, not Smith-Barney.”

Patti Fox • Bellaire

 
Monday, September 1, 2008

Letters 9/01/08

Letters Madonna & the orphans
I missed Rick Coates’ article regarding Madonna’s visit to Traverse City, so perhaps I’m not addressing the concern of Angelina Randazzo (August 18 Letters).
However, I was privileged to see Madonna and the film I Am Because We Are at the State Theatre. I applaud Madonna wholeheartedly. Her assistance to the orphans of Malawi is outstanding. Hopefully, her generosity will inspire others to follow -- not only to assist the downtrodden in foreign lands but in our many pockets of poverty. I felt uplifted and proud of this accomplished Michigan woman.
While it is easy to criticize “imperfections” (and don’t we all have them?), few are able to measure up to the many positive accomplishments of Madonna, Michael Moore, and others who have done wonderful things for Michigan, for Traverse City, and for this small world.
Thank you, Michael Moore, for your unceasing efforts to educate, to highlight Michigan talent and to further causes that elicit caring and compassion. Traverse City is a nicer place thanks to you.

Theresa Walter • Suttons Bay

Don‘t dis Madonna
The reader who wrote the letter criticizing Madonna’s appearance at the recent Traverse City Film Festival obviously missed the point of the festival and Madonna.
Madonna did not appear representing anything other than her excellent film about the plight of children, poverty and AIDS in Malawi. As a mother, a woman and an artist, she speaks volumes about the importance of giving back to the world and being involved.
Sexual exploitation in her path to stardom is another cheap shot and is ignorant of what it takes to be successful at anything -- hard work, discipline, and a point of view.
Final point: I imagine Madonna’s daughter will have the intelligence and curiosity to learn and discuss these issues with a mother who is open to dialogue and not given to ignorant, judgmental thinking. I encourage the reader to get involved with life in a more balanced way and stop worrying about Madonna.

Jim Damberg • TC



A no-class act
Regarding Angela Crandall’s letter “Quit knocking Madonna“ in your Aug. 25 issue, Angela says: “She (Madonna) rarely judges others as we do, or puts people on pedestals.”
Well, Angela, how do you explain the video interlude during Madonna’s concert in Cardiff recently, where she mixed images of Hitler, Zimbabwe’s authoritarian ruler Robert Mugabe, and John McCain?
It’s one thing to voice your displeasure of a political candidate, but comparing a former United States POW to Hitler is absolutely classless.
The AP story of Madonna’s recent concert is at www.usatoday.com/life/music/news/2008-08-23-madonna

Steve Roman • Alden

The flame burns on
The flame has been doused, and I’m not sure whether I’m angry with China or proud of U.S. responses to the 29th Olympiad in Beijing.
We forgave the opening ceremony director for “digitally enhancing” the fireworks. Hey, you guys, you invented fireworks centuries ago. Why the need for the 21st century “enhancements”? Okay, we probably would have done it or something equally nationalistic to prove we were still ahead in that game.
We kinda‘ understood your concentrating on gold medals or nothing, because we hadn’t thought of it, always considering the total number of medals as the most important. For our national ego, we still must cling to that concept for now, and will probably change focus for London in 2012.
But your attitude, China, toward little kids is something I/we couldn’t handle. First, you had a cuter little girl lip sync the national anthem, because another little girl singer wasn’t “adorable” enough. OK. We swallowed hard. Then you tried lying about the ages of those little baby girls in gymnastics. That did it. In how many more years will they be 16? How long were they children of the state, not of their families? Or were they children beyond the one child per family allowable number, so somehow they belonged to Beijing? The Beijing-driven regulations probably don’t work exactly like that, but . . . .
Golly, you also had a totally controlled citizenry. Not a single request for a protest in the established protest areas was governmentally found worthy. Furthermore, citizens individually (willingly or not) gave up their roads and streets, their cars, and their jobs in polluting industries for two weeks.
Most of the U.S. thanks you, China, for the incredible technical spectacles of the opening and closing ceremonies and the brilliant presentations of the skills of international athletes.
Yeah, proud of you or not, angry or not, I (we?) thank you. Doused or not, the Olympic flame burns on.

Patricia W. Fox • Bellaire

 
Monday, August 25, 2008

Letters 8/25/08

Letters Film Fest too elitist?
Does the Traverse City Film Festival love the people of Traverse City? The festival has demonstrated tremendous potential, but is at risk of losing focus of its mission to “just show great movies.“
There were several moments throughout the 2008 festival -- like ushering the audience out of the theatre before the credits could roll -- that made it seem that maybe good films are no longer behind the excitement of the festival.
Although festivals like this rely on the generous support of the community, the motivation to become a “Friend” or an individual sponsor denotes a certain status that allows special access to the films rather than a desire to donate to the festival.
Rather than reserving tickets for sale to the general public, many movies were sold out prior to the opening of sales, and standby tickets for these films were not available. Failing to make the movies available to the ‘people that love to go to the movies’ – especially those in the community that may not be able to afford a ‘generous donation’ – taints the ‘magic’ of the TC Film Festival.
In their mission, the Traverse City Film Festival pledges to “enrich the human spirit and the art of filmmaking — not the bottom line.” And this mission is fulfilled when audiences are invited to engage in thoughtful discussion with the filmmakers after screening films like Captain Abu Raed and Body of War.
These films inspire and provoke, ask us to look beyond ourselves, and remind us of what success is really about. In these films, success is about giving hope and meaning, especially to those that need it the most. How can our Film Festival give hope and meaning to those that need it the most in our community?
Knowing all the good reasons to go see these films, many people waited in standby lines for hours and failed to receive tickets. This is deplorable.
Catering to the people who can afford the large fee to become a friend of the festival will ostracize many citizens who live in and around Traverse City. This system prevents a substantial population of working-class citizens from even having the hope that they can afford the money or the time in line to attend the festival.
In order to retain support and enthusiasm, tickets must be available to the people and continue to be affordable.
The Traverse City Film Festival was supposed to be a festival for the people; we do not think anyone would want to promote our film festival as one emulating the Sundance Film Festival.
The Traverse City Film Festival is unique because it is not exclusive and it is not about celebrities. Let’s always strive for an egalitarian society where even “just great films” are for everyone, despite their ‘friend’ status. A real friend supports the greater good of the festival and the community, and not by increasing their personal access to films by restricting it to others.

Kathryn & Frank Lepera

Quit knocking Madonna
As a fan of Madonna, I am tired of the ridicule, criticism, and negative attitudes towards her appearing at the film festival.
Michael Moore asked her to attend because he felt her documentary was a worthwhile experience for everyone in Traverse City, whether you were a Madonna fan or not.
The whole reason she was here was to make us more aware of how fortunate we are as a country, and how we can be a part of the big picture in changing the world. In my stance, if anyone can help save us, Madonna can. She does not limit herself to one perspective, but has many. She rarely judges others as we do, or puts people on pedestals.
I think if you have something important to say, say it, but if it is only to bash another celebrity for living their life, or doing their job in ways you find inappropriate, keep it to yourself.

Angela Crandall • via email


The brain drain
I agree with Rick Coates’ articulate article about the youth of this state and the future need to have them stay (“Plugging the Brain Drain“ 8/11).
I must say that I was one of those fleeing the state; albeit decades ago. My reason: Growing up in suburban Detroit, everything was focused on the auto industry. I wanted to pursue an education and career in the arts -- either fine art or commercial. Michigan is not as encouraging to young people either today or yesterday. Yes, there are those that stayed to flourish and succeed. But there are others who just don’t.
A couple of suggestions from someone who eventually came back to Michigan after a 20+ year absence:

- Improve the public school system;
- Offer more scholarships/grants;
- Expand industry sectors (thus creating a wider range of job opportunities);
- Spotlight innovation and “think tanks”;
- Open up small business lending and “angel” investing;
- Focus on quality of work/life balance.

As we pack up my eldest for her first year of college in Chicago, I don’t in the slightest begrudge her the opportunity to attend college in such a vibrant and diverse environment. A city in which she spent the first 10 years of her life; how befitting that she regards it as somewhat of a homecoming.
I’m generalizing here, but Michigan’s leadership in the political and industrial arenas have shunned the “creative class.” I find this contrary to our history. Been to Greenfield Village or Henry Ford Museum lately? Take a look at all the innovation that this great state was built upon.
Yes, Rick, you are right... we need our youth. Teachers, doctors, lawyers, business owners, researchers, designers, civic leadership and so much more so our state can start anew.

Joann Sondy • via email

 
Monday, August 18, 2008

Letters 8/18/08

Letters Pass it on?
Hopefully, next year the Film Festival can find a much better representative of the film industry to make an appearance in Traverse City instead of somebody like Madonna, who sexually exploited her way to stardom.
If Rick Coates ever does get to interview Madonna, how about asking her if she passed her “Boy Toy” belt buckle down to her young daughter so she can wear it like her momma did.

Angelina M. Randazzo • TC

Evasive action
Anne Stanton’s article, “Ride ’Em Cowboy!” was a timely and relevant look at the very important issue of bicycling safety, and, for the most part, I agreed with her in just about every respect. However, there were a few omissions that I would like to point out, as well as an issue I disagreed with.
Riding on the right side of the road is considered a primary rule of bicycling, but it’s not always safe or practicable. I ride on M-22 in Leelanau County enroute to work, and I always ride on the left, facing traffic.
Notice in the two biking fatalities mentioned, the riders were killed by drivers who struck them from behind. They never saw the vehicle that hit and killed them. Personally, if I’m going to be run off the road, I prefer to see it coming -- at least this way I have a chance to take evasive action.
Granted, M-22 has a paved, six-foot-wide shoulder to ride on, and it may not always be practicable to ride on the left, but I’ll do it every chance I have.
Also not mentioned was bicycling at night. I get out of work at 2 a.m., and half of my route takes me down M-22. I wear a helmet with a detachable headlamp, as well as two strong LED flashlights that I velcro to the helmet when necessary, along with a small LED light facing backwards. I also have a flashing red tail light on the bike. I get teased a lot about the amount of lights I wear at night, but I’m strongly aware that, at two in the morning, I’m riding a highway that leads directly from the bars in Traverse City to an all-night casino that also has bars. I want these inebriated drivers to see me!
Also, drivers: when you happen upon a bicyclist riding towards you at night, dim your lights! We can’t see the road ahead of us when we’re blinded by your high beams—no one likes to barrel down the road on a bike when he can’t see anything.
Finally, always wear a helmet, no matter how goofy you think they make you look. I’ve only had one crash on my bike, but I was stunned at how fast my “face-plant” occurred. I literally had no time to react before I found myself flat on the pavement with my bike on top of me (I hit a curb that I hadn’t seen). Don’t be an organ donor because you thought helmets were “dumb,” or “unmanly,” or “funny looking.”
Like on a motorcycle, there are no second chances in a bicycle accident. Do everything you can, and wear everything you must, to avoid the accident in the first place.

Howard J. Blodgett • Leelanau


Know the road rules
Thanks for the good article on biking and a touch of safety practices. With the growing numbers of cyclists on the road due to economics more than anything else, it is important that people be reminded of the rules.
A lot of people have taken to riding after many years if not decades of not riding, most haven’t ridden since they were kids, and man how times have changed. The number of cars have gone up considerably and the recognition of cyclists on the road has gone down. Long gone are the days of weaving back and forth across the line like we did as kids. Auto drivers don’t know for sure what to do with a cyclist anymore.
I read Bicycle and Mountain Bike magazine and every month someone comments about the cyclists they have encountered who are not obeying the rules of the road. These are the people that cause drivers to respond like the ones you commented on in the article. There are rules for cyclists and if someone is intending to ride their bike in towns or on rural roads, then they better learn the rules and obey them. This goes for riding our miles of bike trails too.
You would do the public a huge favor by posting articles or comments about riding in Northern Michigan. The Express is respected and read by many, it would be a great medium to get good info out to the growing number of pedal power people, new and old.

Joe Deater • Lake Ann

 
Monday, August 11, 2008

Letters 8/11/08

Letters Legalize & tax pot
Speaking as a former federal law enforcement officer, a retired elementary school counselor, a taxpayer and most importantly, a parent, I would like to respond to a recent Express article, “The end of reefer madness?“
We can argue from now until Doomsday whether marijuana is a deadly gateway drug; a simple plant like any other, neither inherently good or evil; or a great boon to mankind given to us a loving creator. The true debate needs to be, is prohibition the best way to deal with the dangers, real or imagined, of marijuana?
Marijuana is here to stay, deeply ingrained in our society. Thinking we will ever achieve the utopian vision of a “marijuana-free society” is just so much wishful thinking. Seventy years after marijuana prohibition was first enacted and 35 years after President Nixon declared a “War on Drugs,” marijuana is cheaper, more potent, more prevalent and more available than ever before.
Prohibition takes all control over who manufactures and distributes marijuana and who it is sold to away from legitimate government oversight, and hands it over to criminal gangs. Marijuana prohibition means no control whatsoever. Marijuana dealers don’t ask underage children to show ID, just the cash.
Regardless of one’s opinion on the relative dangers of marijuana abuse, one thing we all ought to agree on is that prohibition is the worst scheme possible to control it. When our grandparents wisely abandoned alcohol prohibition, it wasn’t because they decided booze wasn’t so dangerous after all. Rather, they had the integrity to face the truth: prohibition was making the problem worse.
Marijuana prohibition is horribly expensive, costing the taxpayers of Michigan close to $200 million in police, court and jail costs alone. At the same time it deprives the State Treasury of hundreds of millions in potential tax revenues, makes criminals out of tens of thousands of otherwise law-abiding citizens, and opens the door to the steady erosion of our privacy and civil liberties. The only success of marijuana prohibition has been to guarantee life-time employment to those doing the prohibiting, and to make a few very bad people very rich.
Marijuana prohibition has been a dismal failure. A failure made even more glaring when compared to the sensible way we deal with alcohol and tobacco -- the two most deadly drugs in our society today. The solution is obvious. The only question is, do we have the courage to do it? Or are we doomed to another 35 years of failure?
Legalize, regulate and tax marijuana, so that we can finally control marijuana.

Greg Francisco • Paw Paw

End reefer madness
Thank you for your “voice of common sense” in your Random Thoughts article titled, “The end of reefer madness?”
While I may not agree with your statement about potent strains causing psychotic reactions (this study was disproved), I do agree with everything else that you wrote. You nailed it with your very first sentence! My body belongs to me! No one has a right to tell me what I can put into my body as long as I am hurting no one by doing it! The sooner that those who are supposed to represent us, and those that are supposed to ‘protect and serve‘ us get this, then maybe we can move on to more important things.
It might interest you to know that U.S. companies bought 92% of last year‘s Canadian hemp crop. That could have been money in our farmers‘ pockets, and yet, they all seem to be drunk on corn ethanol as the answer to our gas problems. What a shame, but then, it is hard to undo 71 years of reefer madness that seems to be alive and well yet today.
I hope and pray that before I leave this earth, we will finally “get it!” Until then, I will keep fighting, I will keep using cannabis, and I will continue to refuse to be treated like a criminal!
Change is a comin‘!

Rev. Steven B. Thompson, executive director, Michigan NORML

The difference
As a Democrat and a Christian I believe in mutual respect and compassion for all people and the environment. My Republican friends believe in Right to Life that ends at birth, whereas Democrats believe right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is intended for all life’s journey.
Instead of spending $12 billion per month on Bush’s Iraq War, killing people and creating more enemies, Democrats prefer to spend that same amount to provide a preschool through college education for every student insuring good jobs, health care, and a safe world in which to raise our children.
Instead of lobbyists and corporate money buying our president, legislators, and policies, we believe the people should decide and that every vote should count. Republicans use fear, attacks, and smears. Democrats talk about improving lives.

B.J. Christensen • Cedar
 
Monday, August 4, 2008

Letters 8/4/08

Letters Sierra snafu
The Michigan Chapter of the Sierra Club regrets the decision of the members of the executive committee of the Traverse Group to resign from the Club because they did not agree with an action of the National Sierra Club that allowed the Clorox Corporation to use the Sierra Club logo on their Green Works products.
While the Michigan Chapter has also expressed its concerns about this partnership, we believe that, as in any democracy, we can have disagreements while remaining united by our passion to “explore, protect and enjoy the planet,” the motto of the Sierra Club. Local volunteers, with their deep abiding concern for the earth, are the core of our organization. Even though the Michigan Chapter would not have chosen to engage in a marketing partnership of this nature, we have chosen to continue to work within the organization because we think that other issues that the Sierra Club is involved with are more important.
Here in Michigan we are striving hard to prevent the building of eight new coal-fired electric generating plants. Starting with blowing tops off mountains and despoiling communities in Appalachia to mine the coal to spewing out global-warming CO2 and pollutants like mercury into our air and water to produce electricity, these plants will irreparably harm our beautiful Great Lakes state and its residents. Also, producing energy from coal is very expensive when the cost of pollution is considered. One of the proposed plants is in Manistee and another is in Rogers City.
We have just won a major court victory to protect the pristine Mason Tract along the Au Sable River from gas drilling. We are fighting to protect our forests and waters from pollution by big mining interests and chemical corporations.
We waged a battle to force the corporations that own concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) to abide by laws designed to prevent air and water pollution, and recently the Department of Environmental Quality for the first time ever turned down the permit application for a new CAFO. These factory farms keep animals in inhumane conditions and cause human misery in the communities where they are located and cause beach closings many miles away.
The Traverse Group has been involved in beach clean-ups, wetland preservation and dams on the Boardman River as well as other important issues. The group worked to stop the Hartmann-Hammond Bridge.
We are working with members of the Traverse Group to continue the work of the Sierra Club in the Traverse City area, the state and the nation. We will not let a disagreement on one issue interfere with the important job of protecting the planet so all can continue to explore and enjoy its natural beauty.

Jean Gramlich, chair
Michigan Sierra Club

Madonna who?
Question: What would Madonna say?
Answer: Who really cares?!
There’s a large portion of the population in Northern Michigan that doesn’t give a hoot what Madonna says, whether she shows up for the Film Festival, what vineyard her family owns, who her family trusts, what beach she went to or whether she ever sings another song again.
She had a couple good songs back in the 1980s... but hey, it’s over. My kids don’t even know who she is.
What a total waste of space that article was -- with so many other cool things happening around town, and so many cool people in our area to write about --- Come on Rick Coates, apply those writing skills instead of wasting them.

Vita K. Morse • TC


Sea potty at the beach
As an area resident, boat owner and pedestrian beach user, I would like to submit a literal observation of West Bay.
I know there have been pro-mooring boaters at the Traverse City Commission meetings, defending their stewardship of the water. However, on July 23, as my wife and I sat on the beach of West Grand Toilet Bay at the foot of Hall Street, at about 8 p.m. we observed a middle-aged, bikini-clad woman occupant of an older looking white boat (about 20-22 feet in length with a bow cabin large enough to have a sea potty) jump into the bay by the stern of the boat. Sitting by the edge of the boat and submersed to her shoulders, she appeared to be engaged in some activity.
At the same time, the second occupant of the boat, a middle-aged male, walked up the bow and proceeded to stand there urinating into the bay.
Apparently, the craft lacked toilet facilities. So how many times a day and for how many days can we expect this pair to urinate and defecate adjacent to the beach?
The boat is about 200-300 feet east of the swimming area and about 50 or so feet from the shroeline. Unfortunately, there wasn‘t a name on the back of the boat to better identify it.

Bill Hagan • TC

 
 
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