Letters

Letters 12-14-2014

Come Together There is a time-honored war strategy known as “divide and conquer,” and never has it been more effective than now. The enemy is using it against us through television, internet and other social media. I opened a Facebook account a couple of years back to gain more entries in local contests. Since then I had fallen under its spell; I rushed into judgment on several social issues based on information found on those pages

Quiet The Phones! This weekend we attended two beautiful Christmas musical events and the enjoyment of both were significantly diminished by self-absorbed boors holding their stupid iPhones high overhead to capture extremely crucial and highly needed photos. We too own iPhones, but during a public concert we possess the decency and manners to leave them turned off and/or at home. Today’s performance, the annual Messiah Sing at Traverse City’s Central Methodist Church, was a new low: we watched as Mr. Self-Absorbed not only took several photos but then afterwards immediately posted them to his Facebook page. We were dumbfounded.

A Torturous Defense In defense of the C.I.A.’s use of torture in a mostly fruitless search for vital information, some suggest that the dire situation facing us after 9-11, justified the use of torture even at the expense of the potential loss of much of our nation’s moral authority.

Home · Articles · News · Letters

Letters

 
Monday, January 14, 2008

Letters 1/14/08

Letters Our Intrepid Traveler
I wonder how many readers have been as inspired as I have been by Managing Editor Robert Downes’ recent accounts of his “Downes and dirty” globe-circling prowls through the underbelly of the third world’s teeming cities. Maybe you have to have visited some of these places to appreciate that his sort of seat-of-the-pants travel, flopping in two-star hostelries and assorted caravanserai, dining on peasant fare and mixing it up with the locals, is a daunting experience even for twenty-somethings. And Downes has more than a few miles on him.
His column entitled “The Missing” (Northern Express, 12-17-07) is on target, if I may say so, regarding the “missing” American world travelers, once one gets beyond the “safe” destinations. There is a fascinating world out there, folks. The Western Europeans, Canadians, and Aussies don’t shy from it. Our mass media (but certainly not the Express) have traumatized us with exaggerated images of the dangers out there.
I’ll be off to Jerusalem and Israeli-occupied Palestine in a few weeks; my eighth time over there. Should I be afraid? Not at all. Will I watch where I go, and avoid trouble spots? Sure, but no more so than in any American city. And, yes, the attractions are irresistible.
Come on, fellow yankees. American travelers are great ambassadors of goodwill. As a group we are probably as friendly, egalitarian, and generous as any travelers in the world. People may resent the actions of our government, but they like the casual, curious, smiling and unpretentious Americans who do roam the globe. Hasn’t Downes whetted your appetite? Vamanos!
James R. McCormick • TC
On Boardman Pond
As I wake this morning I’m absolutely beside myself with joy. There could never be a better birthday present for me. My prayers have been answered. The water level on the pond has nearly reached the three foot (theatrical) draw-down level.
I don’t know if the DEQ and County have conceded after reviewing all of the evidence we have compiled, or if they just pushed the wrong buttons when attempting to control the Roller Gates, blocking the flow of water instead of letting it flow naturally as we were told.
The wildlife has now taken another shot to the head. Any life living in or around the pond after rebuilding their homes, burrows, or nests have now been caught in a death trap while hibernating.

Bruce Carpenter • TC
 
Monday, January 7, 2008

Letters 1/7/08

Letters Holler? Hello?
Everyone in Antrim, Charlevoix, Grand Traverse, or Emmet County, or all of Michigan, who knew who Benazir Bhutto was, holler.
Everyone who couldn’t answer that question, then identify where Pakistan is, and holler. Everyone who didn’t answer either question, holler.
The probable overwhelming silence is deafening. One faltering-light possibility of democracy in Pakistan and perhaps one which could then have spread to the rest of the Mid East has been doused by an assassination that should never have happened to a peace loving woman.
Why should we respond? We are no longer an agricultural, tourist directed, who-cares-about-what-happens-in-those-places-in-the-world-where-nothing-affects-us people. What happens in Pakistan, in Somalia, in Darfur, in Dubai, happens to us. We must stop being ostriches with our heads in the sand and the resulting rest of our bodies abundantly exposing our true natures.
We are a necessary part of the whole world. Our involvement in our world is a must. How do we start? Do you know where?

Patricia W. Fox • Bellaire

Thank You Officers
During the late evening on Christmas Eve, I was faced with a very scary and potentially dangerous situation while taking care of the dogs of some friends at their home near Frankfort while they were away for the holiday. As soon as I realized what I was facing (a home
invasion with, it appeared, the intruder still in the home), I took the dogs and left in my car.
Afraid and quite shaken, I called 911. The dispatcher was professional, reassuring and helped me stay calm. She told me the police would be on their way immediately. She called me back a few moments later to confirm my safe location (a nearby church parking lot) and her voice on the other end of the phone reminded me that, although frightened, I was not alone.
The police officers arrived within 5 minutes, bringing with them their K9 dog. I would like to take this opportunity to thank them publicly for their fast response, professionalism and genuine concern.
The Benzie County police force has come under intense scrutiny and the reputation of the Department has been questioned several times over the past few years. I am not writing this letter to defend, repute, condone or condemn those allegations. In fact, I do not know any of the officers that work at the Department personally.
I am simply writing to say that on Christmas Eve 2007, the Benzie County Police Department acted swiftly and with great competence. They treated me with the utmost respect and made me feel protected and safe. They were honest, upfront and acted with integrity. As a woman, I did not, for one moment, feel like I was not being taken seriously. They did a thorough search, returned and explained their findings, assuring me that the home was again safe and secure.
And so, to the Benzie County Sheriff’s Department, I would like them to know that I was, and am, extremely grateful. Thank you for being there. Thank you for your service. And thank you for a job well done.

Monica Evans • Honor
 
Monday, December 31, 2007

Letters 12/31/07

Letters Gift of Giving
As Santa, I always like to say thank you for good deeds done with a happy heart. So first of all, thank you to Northern Express for your recent My Style that featured yours truly. I think it opened people‘s eyes to the ins and outs of Santa fashion. But I‘m really writing to say thank you to a young man named Alex who gave me a gift at my downtown Traverse City house. Imagine, a gift for Santa! It was unprecedented. I was so touched, it brought tears to my eyes. As I promised Alex, I waited for Christmas to open it and to my surprise, I found a “Wishlist Santa“ from Michigan State University, all dressed in Spartan green. Thank you so much for such a thoughtful gift, which I will keep on the mantle over my fireplace. Alex, you have realized the real gift of giving at Christmas. Maybe there‘s a future for you at the North Pole.
P.S. I hope you got the snowboard.

Santa (Al Lien)

DEMOCRATIC FYI
Here’s an FYI for Democratic primary voters. Michigan’s primary will be held January 15, 2008. The Democratic ballot will have 6 choices: Hillary Clinton; Christopher Dodd, Mike Gravel, Dennis Kucinich, Uncommitted, and Write-in.
Please notice that 4 names are missing from the list. Supporters of Joe Biden, John Edwards, Barack Obama and Bill Richardson are urged to vote “uncommitted” instead of writing in their candidates’ names because write-in votes for those candidates will not be counted under state law. A vote for “uncommitted” is a vote to send delegates to the Democratic National Convention who are not committed or pledged to any candidate. Those delegates can vote for any candidate they choose at the Convention.

Pearl Brown • Traverse City

Primary Issues
Cost of Michigan‘s Presidential primary January 15, 2008: $10,000,000+.
Influence of Michigan‘s primary: Down 75%. (We‘ve lost half our Republican delegates, and all our Democratic delegates.)
Private files on primary voters: Free for the Democratic and Republican party machines -- exclusively.
Voters‘ privacy: Priceless…which, to big-party fat cats, apparently equals worthless. (We the People must also show ID to prove we‘re the same people who registered -- or waste time, and more tax dollars, on paperwork.)
What you can do January 15: Pick a party that doesn‘t already drown you in junk mail. Vote for whichever of its candidates you like most -- or least… or an underdog or write-in. Then, whenever that party solicits you, it‘ll be delaying the next first-class postage-rate increase.
What you can do November 4: Vote for other parties and other candidates. If we elect them, the expressions on those fat cats‘ faces really will be priceless.

John Anthony La Pietra • Marshall


 
Thursday, December 27, 2007

Letters 12/27/07

Letters Sovereign Dud
Winston Churchill, Mahatma Gandhi, and Harry Truman are all reputed to have echoed the message of Matthew, Chapter 25: ‘A society is ultimately judged by how it treats its weakest members.’ Contrasting this humanitarian view is the vision of Sovereign Deed, as stated by its colorful founder Barrett Moore:
“Sovereign deeds are those actions we take that guarantee our...independence...actions that make us less reliant and... empower us to protect... ourselves.”
Thus, in Moore’s cowboy world, if you happen to have fifty thousand dollars to spend, you, the self-reliant individual, might survive the next major disaster. If, however, you are just part of the collective, dependent rabble, you probably won’t survive.
Ironically, the fittingly-trademarked motto of Sovereign Deed was the guiding principle of our government from the New Deal to the dawn of Reaganism. The government existed to attempt to “plan, protect, and provide” welfare for all its citizens. Tragically, however, since Reagan, and the rise of ‘Chicago School’ economic acolytes, the notion of a ‘commonwealth,’ and ‘common good’ has been scrapped for social Darwinist anarchy. In this Blade-Runnerist, laissez-faire nightmare, New Orleans, for example, is literally left to drown.
The social concepts of planning, protecting and providing care have become trademarks for a company like Sovereign Deed. In this world, Paris Hilton’s life is intrinsically more valuable than that of a Pellston firefighter.
Embracing fear and exclusivity is not the answer for ending the economic malaise of Pellston, Michigan, or the United States. The true answer is to embrace hope and inclusion - to imagine a reawakening of the New Frontier dream of John F. Kennedy. The answer is to spend a fraction of what is being wasted in Iraq on developing alternative energy sources and transportation services.
Governor Granholm should be ashamed of herself for accepting the promises of a late-night TV snake-oil salesman.

Matthew Malpass • East Jordan

Only the Wealthy
I just wanted to thank you for publishing the article about Sovereign Deed. I’m sure I’m not the only person, who at first thought this sounded like a wonderful opportunity for a small town. Thank you for revealing the true intentions.
I had no idea it was a service that only the wealthy can afford. No wonder they picked such a small town – the better to protect themselves from an invasion in a time of need.
I hope that Emmet County and the state reconsider giving this company incentives, and look further into the origins of this “company”.

Erin Early • Bellaire

Kings or Jokers?
Thank you for the enlightening article regarding sovereign deed (S.D.). I’m a resident of Petoskey but away from the community for the next six months or so.
I‘ve been following S.D.’s financial backing and also questioning the possible other reason for establishing their company in Pellston... if I could throw out a few names/or sites that were not mentioned, but I wonder how much of a critical playing card they are:
1) Richard Rainwater, Texas millionaire, who is financially backing S.D. has been/or is still in business with:
2) Boone Pickens, another Texas oil millionaire who admits he is searching for water to control, and as the Internet shows in many articles, is starting to buy property because he feels water is the next oil... (current holdings for water in the Texas panhandle, but there had been sites mentioning other states, even Canada).
3) The lease between S.D. and the county, which is found online. I could be wrong, but there seem to be some rather large loopholes in several key issues that have not been mentioned.
4) The bill put forth dealing with IMS (the speedway) and its S.D. connection as far as having the land and tax abatement, etc.; also on the Internet.

Bonnie Elkins • Petoskey

 
Thursday, December 20, 2007

Letters 12/20/07

Letters It‘s Not Her Style
I love the Express, but grit my teeth every time I see the “My Style” feature. I’ve always found it rather strange and pointless, but at this time of year I find it downright offensive. The total for the individual featured in the Dec. 6-12 issue was $900. The same day I read the Express, the Record-Eagle ran a front page story about a local nonprofit thrift store, which gives away children’s winter wear, not having any gloves for an 11-year-old boy.
I went to the store and told the manager I would be happy to buy him whatever he needed, but the boy could not be located. However, the newspaper story resulted in a surge of donations. They were still short on snowpants, so I went out and bought many pairs of children’s snowpants and donated them. They cost less than what the “My Style” individual spent on her hair, makeup, and nails. I don’t have a lot of money, so guess I’ll just have to do without my $900 getup.
We all spend money on ourselves, but do we have to glorify it in the pages of the Express? Why not use the space to highlight more interesting things about local people, or to recognize some of the dedicated volunteers and staff of the many nonprofits, and their philosophy of giving. Anything would be more uplifting than how many hundreds of dollars somebody spent on their clothes, shoes, handbag, jewelry, hair, makeup, and nails. Is there anybody else out there who couldn’t care less?
To all those doctors out there who pose proudly and reveal how much they spend on themselves, and to all those 11-year-old boys who have no winter gloves, I wish you Merry Christmas and Peace.

Andrea Stewart • TC

Many Voices
Regarding the words of Matt Robb, in Express’ letters Oct.11 letters section:
“....politics to me was a scattered mess of emptiness - rhetoric from on high, specifically designed to confuse our better senses. Then, a voice boomed through the TV set, setting off flashing memories of a better world in the making. ‘There is not a liberal America and a Conservative America, there is the United States of America’.......”
This government of the people, by the people, and for the people was constituted by faith-full people who had to be persuaded to enumerate the “rights” they considered to be from God and were to be protected for the good of all, the common good. These people, no doubt in my mind, were hearing from God who wanted this country founded. God not only wanted this country, he still wants it and even now God himself inspires people for the common good. Although God is communicating to people, not everyone hears or listens or pays attention. It is not easy to tell who is and who is not hearing from God today. All I know is I want people holding office and employed by the government to be God-fearing and listening for God’s leading voice.

Marian Johnson • Manistee
 
Thursday, December 13, 2007

Letters 12/13/07

Letters Unhappy Trails
Have you heard the latest news from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources? They recently announced that they will not be grooming any of their cross-country ski trails this winter, and also that there are no plans to plow any of the parking lots! This includes such popular local trail systems like Muncie Lakes, Lake Ann Pathway, Lost Lake Pathway (Lake Dubonnet) and Sand Lakes Quiet Area. It also affects numerous trail systems throughout the state that are used for both cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.
It was bad enough when they closed the toilets at the trailheads last summer, but now it will be almost impossible for any of us to use the trail systems themselves. They say that they will not allow others to plow the lots due to “insurance issues,” although in the past there were a few people who did it anyway.
At the present time, it seems like the DNR is solely interested in timber harvesting, because they certainly aren’t looking out for the recreation interests of the
citizens. This ruling affects not only those of us who live here, but also visitors to our area. Tourism will suffer once people show up and find that they can’t access the trail systems that they drove north to use. This ruling even has an effect on the health of our populace, since it will make it that much more difficult to get outdoors and enjoy the winter activities that keep us in shape in colder months.
It is not too late to do something. Feel free to send a note to anyone you think can help out. We have telephoned our legislators in Lansing, as well as Governor Jennifer Granholm. Perhaps people who are concerned with our well-being and health, or with the tourism industry, might like to exert some pressure too. It can’t hurt.

Lois Goldstein - Williamsburg

Dense Is As Dense Does?
How dense is the American population that our president thinks he can pull a repeat of the WMD scare? Today our President, when faced with the release of the facts re: Iran’s nuclear research, continued, as he had with Iraq, to try and drum up support with the pitch that IF Iran had the capability of an Atom Bomb, they would be dangerous to the world.
In the same vein, IF cows could fly, we’d all need to be under umbrellas. We can’t let him get away with this deceit and fearmongering again. We can’t allow another rush to action on a false premise by this Administration.
Speak out now or your objection may become moot. It is our right as well as our responsibility to let this Administration know that we are not going to be manipulated into another war due to his faulty reasoning and personal agenda.

Margaret Forgione - TC

Not This Time, Buddy
It was interesting to hear Rockefeller’s spin on when Bush must have had the information on Iran, since that would have meant he received the intel the same day as the Senate committee. How Bush can stand in front of the country and spew these transparent lies is beyond me.
This all sounds like a stuck record! This time around we will have no followers into the pit!

Krys Lyle - Beaver Island

Go Go Granholm
Kudos to the Gov. for trying to lead us into a economic and environmentally-friendly future in realizing that changes are needed in our thirst for energy. I am so sick of the broken Federal level still making proper uses of limited resources a political issue, and states should ignore our corrupt Federal losers who only support their fat cat lobbies who control the information and uses of energy. Many examples are available, just like “Kenny Boy” (Ken Ley), Bush’s highest contributer at Enron for his reelection; we all know where that led with relaxing government controls and leadership.
You who fall along party lines without realizing the fate of being the possible last generation of humans, should be ashamed of your destruction of life, liberty, and freedom by being blind followers of such a corrupt, controlling, and sinister liar as our President. Is obvious evidence as Iran enough for you? When will we realize the potential in what we can all do, like our Governor who embraces a good change?
Thank you, Ms. Granholm, for being a smart governor in a very corrupt world! All those blaming her for Michigan’s economy, please refrain now!

Bradford Krull - TC



Defending Inequality
Marriage has been a hot button topic in America. There are those who feel the need to defend it against “the insurgent forces of homosexuals”. The arguments that are usually bandied about have been that marriage has been and always should be defined by one cardinal rule: “One man and one woman.” Michigan has twice entered into its constitution clarifications to the institution of marriage; first in 1996 by passing the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and second in 2004 with the Marriage Amendment Act. In doing so, Michigan has also clarified that it is defending inequality. Marriage exists as a dual entity in the United States. There is the religious ceremony that most are familiar with. There is also the state and federally sanctioned unions, the paperwork side of marriage. One can be had without the other, as is required by law for separation of church and state. However, laws written to exclude certain groups from partaking in the benefits given to those who marry, sets the stage for state sanctioned inequality reinforced by religious dogma. It also reinforces majority rule. If over 76% of Americans claim to be of a Christian faith, then it is almost guaranteed that this issue has been “religiousized” (as opposed to politicized).
What we are seeing is the majority oppressing the minority because of the way they (the majority) feel about same-sex marriage. There have not been any conclusive studies that prove that same-sex marriage is detrimental to the participants, children (any), the family structure, the community, the institution of marriage, or the nation. It is someone’s right to disagree with lesbian and gay couples right to marry, or to exist as lesbians or gays for that matter. It is not their right to block their rights or their happiness under the guise of Christian compassion or the protection of families/family values. One of my teachers years ago told me “Your rights end where another person’s begins”. Her lesson was about how to interpret the Constitution. I often wonder where the Constitution is when discussing same-sex marriage. People do not seem concerned for the rights of others, only in protecting their own state of being at the expense of others.

Chad Vander Henst - Brethren


 
Monday, December 3, 2007

Letters 12/3/07

Letters Do The Right Thing
Whatever happened to doing the right thing because it’s the right thing to do?
Just because our world leaders are suspect in the department of truly caring about the common person is it any reason to jump over to their seemingly thoughtless “It’s all about Me” program?
Just because our economic leaders in corporations have jumped ship and gone to outsourcing so they can supply their ever apparent constant hunger and
worship to greed, is it in our best interests to follow their simplistic, ignominious lead?
I suggest that we, as a people, are better than the folks who purport to lead and attempt to shepherd us. I believe that simple acts of kindnesses, opening a door for someone, allowing someone else to go first in traffic, helping someone cross a street, these simple acts really speak the loudest about our character as a society.
When you see someone in need, you help them; hasn’t that always been the way? I’ve adventured all over the U.S. and Canada and much of the World, and it seems these simple acts speak the loudest in every corner. I have been a stranger in a strange land, and someone’s act of kindness helped me travel safely.
I suggest we all try to do more of the right thing, especially when our world and economic leaders, our politicians, and our governments seem particularly incapable of doing it themselves.
Wouldn’t the simple act of doing
the right thing make everything better right now?
I believe it does.

Chris Convissor • Lake Ann

Usher‘s Intrigue
This letter is in regard to the incorrect and lacking information used in the “My Style” column of last week’s Northern Express (Vol. 17 No. 48 Nov 29-Dec 5.)
Mrs. Stanton writes “...someone found an old usher uniform tucked away when the dormant theatre was first
explored three years ago.” This is not true. Three years ago when Michael Moore enlisted the help of Tim Hall to renovate the State Theatre for the first Traverse City Film Festival, he embraced Mr. Hall’s idea to dress the volunteer ushers in the original red and gold uniform along with the pill box hat and concession trays that would be worn around the neck.
I know this because with two usher costumes donated graciously by the Old Towne Playhouse, I created three more just like them to be used on opening night. My time and money went into making those costumes that have once again been reinvented by the skillful
Diane Budzynowski, Pinkie Hoffman, Rebecca Davis, Nancy Monteith, and Jean Barrett.
Why is it necessary to recreate history when the original story is full of enough intrigue? Sorry, no dusty fossil of an usher uniform had any part in this segment of the State’s past, only an idea and a lot of talent. Let’s give credit where credit is due.
Breanne Russell • TC


 
Thursday, November 29, 2007

Letters 11/29/07

Letters No Place For a Mine
The Department of Environmental Quaity comment period on Kennecott’s petition to open a metallic sulfide mine on the Yellow Dog Plains is now closed. However, I would like to share my concerns with you about this project.
First, this is no place for a mine. The headwaters of the Salmon Trout River, a pristine tributary of Lake Superior and home to endangered coaster brook trout is one of the worst places in Michigan, if not the world, to put a mine. Any mine. And to even consider a metallic sulfide mine operated by an EPA listed polluting foreign company is more than crazy. It’s criminal.
Second, while Michigan’s new mining law looks good on paper, it’s a facade. Deficiencies include: No siting criteria or water setbacks making any fragile environment a potential mine site. There is no monitoring along the transportation route. Local zoning control was taken away from governments and the people most affected. The rules are confusing, making the law difficult to enforce.
Third, the Kennecott application is flawed. Essential information on groundwater, surface water, discharge rate, transportation, and safety is missing from the application.
Fourth, this is our state land, not Kennecott’s. You don’t have to let them use it, so “takings” isn’t an issue. The payoff to the state of Michigan doesn’t add up. They get billions. We get few short term jobs, toxic waste dumps, polluted air and water, lower property values, health issues for citizens, and a trashed landscape no one wants to visit, ruining our vital tourism economy. Michigan is being treated like a third world country with state leaders looking on in assent.
In summary, Michigan, Water Wonderland of the U.S., has lost its way and you are leading us down the wrong path. No mine should be sited here, the mining law has no teeth, the application is flawed, and the people of Michigan lose.
We need state leaders to oppose this flawed project. If this mine is permitted on your watch our children and grandchildren will ask: What were you thinking? Think again, because it’s our land and our water.

Mattea Wellnitz • Rapid City
 
Thursday, November 22, 2007

Letters 11/22/07

Letters He Says Yes To Foie
I have followed with interest the Foie Gras “debate” that has raged in the letters to the editor section for weeks now.
I have resisted weighing in on the subject until now, but after reading the most recent anti foie gras opinions, I feel compelled to offer a less hysterical viewpoint.
Foie Gras is a unique food that has achieved both notoriety and high esteem among people of all social standings which has slowly made its way from the banquets of the Egyptian pharaohs to the white tablecloth establishments of today.
Spurred by some of my customer’s aversion to Foie Gras several years ago, and my own interest in agriculture and farming I visited six different duck farms in Sonoma County and the Central Valley of California. I came away from trip reassured that the animals were clean, healthy and treated with respect.
Alderman Joe Moore, who introduced the resolution to ban Foie Gras in Chicago ( called “silly” by Chicago Mayor Richard Daley ) acknowledges that he has never visited a Foie Gras farm and isn’t sure if he has ever eaten the food.
The methods used to produce Foie Gras have concerned people since ancient times, and so farmers have constantly refined their techniques. In doing so, they have discovered that the way to decrease goose and duck mortality and increase the average weight of the livers is to treat the birds delicately.
Foie Gras farms operate in a tiny niche of the enormous poultry industry. From a strategic standpoint they provide an easy target for animal rights activists: they are small and lack expensive lobbyists. Their main product is perceived as a luxury good, like fur, and many believe that, after extracting the liver, the rest of the bird is left unused. In reality, a greater portion of the Foie Gras duck is used than any other bird raised for human consumption. The breasts become magrets; the legs and wings are used in confits and to make rillettes; the fat is an excellent cooking medium; chefs use the carcasses to prepare stocks; and the tongues, feet, testicles and intestines are sold to Asian markets. Feathers are sold for down.
The second issue that animal rights groups focus on is the method of feeding and the effect it has on the bird’s liver. Waterfowl are not humans, however, and a practice that could cause us grave harm or death has little effect on a goose or duck. The bird’s anatomy is fundamentally different from ours and reflects their natural environment and their twice annual long distance migration. While preparing for their migrations, the birds must gorge, to amass the energy reserves of fat needed for the long flight. Ducks and geese possess livers that have specially evolved to become the main repository for this fat. If food is abundant, they will eat as much of it as possible as quickly as possible. This may include small fish, plants, and insects, some of them with spines and sharp legs. In the Foie Gras duck feeding process, farmers are merely taking advantage of the birds’ natural eating habits and physiology.
The imagery of inserting a tube into the bird’s esophagus can be perceived as cruel. A waterfowl throat, however, is not like the throat of a human. The lining of the duck and goose esophagus is composed of fibrous protein cells that resemble fingernails, allowing large pieces of food to pass safely. Because of this anatomical feature, the tube creates no discomfort for the birds. Feeding is also aided by the fact that the birds’ esophagi are extremely flexible. Near the bottom, their throats widen into a simple crop where the food is stored before being passed on to the stomach. During feeding, the smooth tube of the funnel is pushed down to the crop. The feed ends up here, and the bird is immediately released so that it can waddle off to drink.
A resolution to oppose force feeding by the American Veterinary Medical Association’s House of Delegates (initiated in part by propaganda about how inhumane the process was) was unanimously defeated in July 2005 after visits to Foie Gras farms by a group of their members.
The mortality rate of Foie Gras ducks is 3-3.5 % compared to 5-20% for poultry overall.
There also needs to be some perspective on where foie gras lies on the spectrum of meat and poultry production in the United States. The vast majority of the meat and poultry we eat comes from animals which have been raised in what have been called “factory farms”, under conditions that are far less humane than those of the conditions at a Foie Gras farm. Perhaps those who are concerned about the treatment of animals should focus more on the meat and poultry that sustain most of our population, instead of Foie Gras, which is an infinitesimal portion of our food supply.
You’ll notice that I dismiss out of hand the notion offered by the reader from California that we abstain from killing and eating animals entirely.
As a professional cook for almost 30 years and the son and grandson of butchers, I know where I stand in the food chain.
I for one will continue to enjoy Foie Gras (occasionally) while it is still my choice to do so.

Ted Cizma • Williamsburg
 
Thursday, November 15, 2007

Letters 11/15/07

Letters Misery on a Plate
In a recent letter, Charli Henry attempts to defend the indefensible practice of foie gras production, in which ducks and geese are artificially force fed until their livers become purposefully diseased and swollen many times their normal size.
In order to produce this “gourmet delicacy”, the terrified birds are restrained several times a day, a long metal pipe is shoved down their throats, and meal is force fed, typically by pneumatic pump, into their esophagi. Throats are often bruised or punctured and many birds die in the process. The rest live in overcrowded cages and pens and endure a cycle of misery and pain until they are slaughtered, never having experienced anything resembling a normal life.
Why take my word for it? I urge readers to take a moment research foie gras production on the web. There are many good resources including the Humane Society of the United States.
We enjoy the privilege of dominion over the animals this planet, who are totally at our mercy. Does this mean we should continually to heap horrific abuse on sentient beings in order to satisfy our palates?
As the light of day begins to shine on another of the cruelest practices in factory farming, the public is responding with compassion. Pope Benedict XVI has decried force feeding and the degradation of living creatures. Whom, sir, did you say is on shaky moral ground? Let’s call foie gras what it is - misery on a plate.

Pamela Montry • Suttons Bay

Foie Gras: Not Humane
I read Rick Coates’ article on foie gras and appreciate his attempt to work out the “controversy,” but there was a fundamental problem with his desire to seem unbiased: he eats animals. He looks through a particular lens that enables him to eat animals (and their organs, as he attests to), which renders him unable to really truly offer an unbiased picture of animal cruelty. The truth is, all of us are biased, but some of us need our biases more than others when we want to justify our behavior.
The scales that weigh the opinions of people who kill and serve animals for a living against those who seek to protect animals are inherently tipped to begin with. Animal advocates have nothing to gain by opposing cruelty, and citing a few large national organizations does not a “gain” make. Animal advocates don’t get into this work for the money. But supplies, processors, butchers, sellers of “delicacies” such as foie gras have everything to gain. Even the journalists from the NY Times who saw nothing wrong with the practice HAVE to see nothing wrong if they don’t want their entire world rocked.
As a meat-eater, to admit there is something unethical about breeding and killing animals for human consumption is to question the very foundation of people’s comfort zones. Tradition and culture are just excuses, as we now oppose many things today that we once thought were acceptable - slavery, child labor, women viewed as property as their husbands and fathers.
The highest expression of human beings is that which compels us to remain open, willing to learn, willing to do better once we know better. There is no justification for breeding, force-feeding, and then killing another living creature just so we can enjoy a delicacy. We have no nutritional requirement for animal flesh, and certainly you would agree we have no need to consume the fattened livers of ducks and geese. To do so is to close our eyes to that which makes US uncomfortable but which continues to desensitize us to the needless suffering of living, feeling beings who, if they had a choice, would never put themselves in such a predicament.
In many ways, we have advanced as a species, but in many ways we have grown very little since people watched lions tear Christians to pieces and families gathered to watch criminals drawn and quartered. We should take “human” out of the word humane, because we have little claim to it.

Colleen Patrick-Goudreau • Oakland, CA

 
Thursday, November 8, 2007

Letters 11/8/07

Letters Football Fans
The NFL is far and away America’s most popular sport and the NFL Network covers football 24/7. But too many football fans like me have Comcast, Time Warner, Charter or Cablevision. We are facing another season when we won’t be able to see the great programming on NFL Network, including eight NFL games, or we will have to pay more for it compared to those fans lucky enough to have DirecTV, Dish Network, Verizon FiOS or
AT&T U-Verse. The big cable companies have moved NFL Network to a “sports tier” or aren’t carrying it altogether – preventing fans from seeing the quality programming including 200 games annually presented on this network.
Despite the fact that cable rates have increased by more than 40% in the last few years, big cable companies are still looking to squeeze even more from NFL fans by refusing to carry NFL Network in their affordable packages. At the same time, they use a double standard and include channels they own, like Versus and the Golf Channel, in their basic lineups.
I urge other frustrated fans to join me in writing to our government officials and tell them the cable companies should add NFL Network to their lineup alongside the channels they own. For more information on this issue, you should visit www.IWantMyNFLNetwork.com.

Nick Zlojutro • Traverse City
 
Thursday, November 1, 2007

Letters 11/1/07

Letters Foie Gras: Natural?
Thanks for providing a relatively unbiased look at the controversy surrounding foie gras (“Foie Gras,” Rick Coates).
Foie gras is simply an extension of a naturally occurring process. Those who believe gavage to be cruel are anthropomorphizing. Duck physiology is not at all human. As one chef mentioned in the article, ducks do lack a gag reflex. Their esophagi have an insensitive lining, allowing them to swallow large fish and other prey in the wild, and allowing for pain-free hand-feeding.
Additionally, in nature, ducks fatten their livers for energy prior to migration. This effect, in nature and in foie gras farming, is reversible, indicating that that foie gras production does not result in diseased livers.
Independent veterinarians and scientists have studied the process and found it to be humane.
Those who support animal rights rather than animal welfare are dangerously close to shaky moral ground. For animal rights activists, a human life is the same as a duck’s life. This equates the eating of meat with genocide, as evidenced in a campaign by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) called “Holocaust on Your Plate.” The belief that humans are unique is essential to promoting universal human rights. How can eating foie gras be compared the death of millions of innocent humans?
For activists, foie gras is easy to attack, as there are only three small foie gras farms in the United States. But even those of us who do not eat it must keep in mind: animal rights is a slippery slope. These are people who do not even respect the sanctity of human life and will not stop at foie gras.
They’ll have us all eating legumes soon enough.

Charli Henley • Cambridge, MA

Rebel Farmer Praise
Praise beyond measure for Anne Stanton’s article about Charlevoix County’s rebel farmer. Greg’s fight is a fight for the continued existence of small farms in the USA, and I do not exaggerate.
Those of us who have criticized the USDA, MDA, Cooperative Extension and the Land Grant Colleges for their role in the industrialization of American agriculture have been told repeatedly “our work is scale neutral”. The National Animal Identification System shows this clearly to be a lie. To charge $2.50 per bird for the back-yard poultry flock while the big boys pay $2.50 per building creates barriers to competition that we will not over come, and it does so by design.
If this program (NAIS) is not defeated there will be no choice but the kind of industrial agriculture that has brought us E. coli O-157, antibiotic resistant bacteria and the other ills that are the result of a triumph of unethical profits over sound biology and a love for Our Mother Who is the Earth.
Educate yourself and fight back!

Jim Moses • Maple City
Fair Rebel Farmer
Regarding Rebel Cow Farmer - that was the first piece written that was objective and fair. I have followed this issue and personally know everyone in the article. Keep up the good objective work.

Dr. Rich Olree • Hillman
Rebel Farmer Education
The feature article in Northern Express, The Rebel Cow Farmer, was comprehensive and should help educate a lot of people that are having difficulty understanding why it has been so hard to eliminate bovine TB from Michigan when other states are successful whenever they have an incident.
The state will NEVER eradicate bovine TB from the domestic herds (thus returning to USDA accredited free status) until it treats the wild animals with the same vigor that it treats the domestic herds.
The current actions of the Michigan Bovine Eradication Project insures that local small family farms in the affected areas will keep losing money and will be pushed out of business. That is a real tragedy for the farm families. It is an economic problem for the communities, and bad for families that are increasingly moving towards locally produced foods. The state officially wants to encourage local food, wants to promote the resurgences of a local economically viable agriculture, and says that they support small family farms. Their actions with bovine TB speak louder than their words.

Ted Beals, MD • Grass Lake
Lawn Sign Theft
I am thoroughly disheartened to learn of the theft and vandalism of Cadillac mayoral hopeful Bill Barnett’s candidacy signs. Not only are these acts a blatant disregard for the law, they are a slap in the faceof our right to free speech. Particularly in this day and age when our constitutional rights are at great risk, it is important that we respect the right of others to display their opinions and voice their support for whom they choose.
Lawn signs are easily the most visible element of a municipal campaign.They give prominence to a hopeful’s name and offer a visible indication of support to that candidate and his or her platform. Lawn signs are avital part of campaigns, and unfortunately for the candidates, they do not come cheaply.
Unfortunately, there are those that deliberately steal a candidate’s signs because they believe they are helping “their candidate” get elected.
In an age where politics has turned malicious, if a candidate can only get elected through dirty play and illegal activity, he/she certainly is not worth electing in the first place.

Karla A. Smith • Cadillac
 
Thursday, October 25, 2007

Letters 10/25/07

Letters No More Foie
Kudos to Beth Bechtel for writing a letter to the editor regarding Foie Gras (10/11/07). I had the same reaction of disgust to the restaurant article that she did, but she did me one better by actually writing - my protest was simply to make a note to self never to patronize that restaurant. So in one sense, I was glad you mentioned the Foie Gras to save me the trouble of walking out of the Andante when I saw it on the menu.
I am looking forward to Rick Coates‘ upcoming article on the issue. (Note: Rick’s article appeared in last week’s issue of the Express - Ed.) I don’t know if any of the restaurants in Traverse City currently serve Foie Gras, but I did email 310 Restaurant a few months ago that I would not return to their restaurant until they took it off their menu.
The most recent menu listing online no longer features the cruel dish, and I wonder if I was the lone voice of protest and their menu is simply changing with the seasons, or if others complained about the inclusion of such a dish on their menu.

Bari Dilworth • TC

No More Foie Part Deux
Thanks to Rick Coates for his detailed feature on foie gras. People who care about animals should be aware that foie gras is banned in over a dozen countries because of the inherent animal cruelty involved in its production (“Foie Gras,” October 16).
Foie gras producers force-feed ducks vast amounts of grain by shoving pipes down their throats, which can cause painful lacerations and even organ rupture. This can cause the birds’ livers to become diseased and enlarged up to more than ten times their normal size, making it difficult for the birds to walk, breathe and sometimes even survive.
Caring consumers can take a stand against this factory farming abuse by asking restaurants to remove foie gras from their menus. For more information, readers can visit www.humanesociety.org



Alyson Bodai • Washington DC


Perturbed With Pelosi
On Thursday, October 10, 2007, Speaker Nancy Pelosi encouraged the House of Representatives to support her resolution condemning the 1917 genocide perpetrated by Turkey against the Armenian population. In defending her ardor, Pelosi declared: “This isn’t about Turkey, it’s about the Ottoman Empire.”
Said empire is history. It fell as a consequence of the War to End All Wars. That was eighty-five years ago!
So why is Popette Pelosi pontificating about a defunct government? Is this why American voters, Republican or Democrat, send representatives to Washington? The correct answer is, “No. We send them there to stay out of our way and do no harm.”
Why can’t Pelosi and her sidekicks just be satisfied with criticizing the U.S. Government? Or perhaps The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg.
And speaking of pontificating against genocide, why does not the Catholic Speaker of the House pass a resolution condemning the deliberate deaths of over forty-million American citizens, infants aborted as a result of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 decision in Roe vs. Wade?
Here lies a contemporary tragedy that affects us all and cries out for Pelosi’s maternal instincts.

Joseph Pasulka • Southport, NC

 
Thursday, October 18, 2007

Letters 10/18/07

Letters Go, Bioneers!
The sixth Great Lakes Bioneers Conference, coming up this weekend, Oct. 19 - 21, covers an unusual variety of topics and a diversity of activities. Highlights of this year’s conference include plenary speakers, broadcast via satellite live from the main conference in California who will be covering topics such as the latest advances in green chemistry: traditional knowledge from an Alaskan indigenous leader and how it can heal and transform humanity: Eve Ensler speaking about women’s issues; healing spiritually and environmentally from the effects of war; and much more!
Our local programming includes instructions on how to construct a green roof, building social justice for Michigan’s immigrant/migrant population, how the local food movement is reaching out to folks across the economic spectrum; Native American efforts to inventory and monitor the Emerald Ash Borer; and more.
Our keynote speaker for Sunday morning is especially interesting. She is Laurie White, a filmmaker from Ann Arbor, who has produced a film called Refusing to be Enemies which will be shown in the Milliken Auditorium following her address. The film follows a group of women that call themselves Zeitouna; 6 Arab and 6 Jewish, who undertake a dialogue process over a four year period, culminating in a trip to the Middle East together. Laurie has worked with Michael Moore in the past; she was the co-producer of Roger and Me. To see more about the film, and Laurie’s work, you could check out her web site at : www.zeitounamovie.org
The Bioneers movement is all-encompassing, embracing the philosophy that it’s all connected: the issues and problems as well as the solutions. This is a terrific opportunity to build networks to continue the fight against despair with a focus on practical solutions. The food’s great too! For more information, go to
www.glbconference.org.

Sally Van Vleck• TC
 
Thursday, October 11, 2007

Letters 10/11/07

Letters Foie Gras Controversy
I read the article about the Andante Restaurant in Petoskey, Michigan the last week in September while vacationing in Traverse City. I was shocked with the article promoting Foie Gras at the Andante Restaurant.
Foie Gras is banned in the state of California, the city of Chicago, and more than a dozen countries in Europe based on the grounds of animal cruelty.
For a progressive publication like the Northern Express, I was also disappointed that your paper and Andante restaurant promote Foie Gras. It is a deeply disturbing animal cruelty practice to obtain this food delicacy.
I hope Traverse City is the next city along with surrounding northern Michigan cities to ban Foie Gras.
For more information, here is a weblink about other Foie Gras bans: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2006/04/27/national/main1550028.shtml

Beth Bechtel • Haslett

(Northern Express doesn‘t promote any restaurant items in particular; we are merely reporting on what those restaurants have to offer. Express of course does not support nor condone any means of animal cruelty. Keep an eye out for Rick Coates‘ extensive report on the Foie Gras controversy in an upcoming issue. --Ed.)


 
 
Close
Close
Close