Letters 10-24-2016

It’s Obama’s 1984 Several editions ago I concluded a short letter to the editor with an ominous rhetorical flourish: “Welcome to George Orwell’s 1984 and the grand opening of the Federal Department of Truth!” At the time I am sure most of the readers laughed off my comments as right-wing hyperbole. Shame on you for doubting me...

Gun Bans Don’t Work It is said that mass violence only happens in the USA. A lone gunman in a rubber boat, drifted ashore at a popular resort in Tunisia and randomly shot and killed 38 mostly British and Irish tourists. Tunisian gun laws, which are among the most restrictive in the world, didn’t stop this mass slaughter. And in January 2015, two armed men killed 11 and wounded 11 others in an attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. French gun laws didn’t stop these assassins...

Scripps’ Good Deed No good deed shall go unpunished! When Dan Scripps was the 101st District State Representative, he introduced legislation to prevent corporations from contaminating (e.g. fracking) or depleting (e.g. Nestle) Michigan’s water table for corporate profit. There are no property lines in the water table, and many of us depend on private wells for abundant, safe, clean water. In the subsequent election, Dan’s opponents ran a negative campaign almost solely on the misrepresentation that Dan’s good deed was a government takeover of your private water well...

Political Definitions As the time to vote draws near it’s a good time to check into what you stand for. According to Dictionary.com the meanings for liberal and conservative are as follows:

Liberal: Favorable to progress or reform as in political or religious affairs.

Conservative: Disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc., or to restore traditions and limit change...

Voting Takes A Month? Hurricane Matthew hit the Florida coast Oct. 6, over three weeks before Election Day. Bob Ross (Oct. 17th issue) posits that perhaps evacuation orders from Governor Scott may have had political motivations to diminish turnout and seems to praise Hillary Clinton’s call for Gov. Scott to extend Florida’s voter registration deadline due to evacuations...

Clinton Foundation Facts Does the Clinton Foundation really spend a mere 10 percent (per Mike Pence) or 20 percent (per Reince Priebus) of its money on charity? Not true. Charity Watch gives it an A rating (the same as it gives the NRA Foundation) and says it spends 88 percent on charitable causes, and 12 percent on overhead. Here is the source of the misunderstanding: The Foundation does give only a small percentage of its money to charitable organizations, but it spends far more money directly running a number of programs...

America Needs Change Trump supports our constitution, will appoint judges that will keep our freedoms safe. He supports the partial-birth ban; Hillary voted against it. Regardless of how you feel about Trump, critical issues are at stake. Trump will increase national security, monitor refugee admissions, endorse our vital military forces while fighting ISIS. Vice-presidential candidate Mike Pence will be an intelligent asset for the country. Hillary wants open borders, increased government regulation, and more demilitarization at a time when we need strong military defenses...

My Process For No I will be voting “no” on Prop 3 because I am supportive of the process that is in place to review and approve developments. I was on the Traverse City Planning Commission in the 1990s and gained an appreciation for all of the work that goes into a review. The staff reviews the project and makes a recommendation. The developer then makes a presentation, and fellow commissioners and the public can ask questions and make comments. By the end of the process, I knew how to vote for a project, up or down. This process then repeats itself at the City Commission...

Regarding Your Postcard If you received a “Vote No” postcard from StandUp TC, don’t believe their lies. Prop 3 is not illegal. It won’t cost city taxpayers thousands of dollars in legal bills or special elections. Prop 3 is about protecting our downtown -- not Munson, NMC or the Commons -- from a future of ugly skyscrapers that will diminish the very character of our downtown...

Vote Yes It has been suggested that a recall or re-election of current city staff and Traverse City Commission would work better than Prop 3. I disagree. A recall campaign is the most divisive, costly type of election possible. Prop 3, when passed, will allow all city residents an opportunity to vote on any proposed development over 60 feet tall at no cost to the taxpayer...

Yes Vote Explained A “yes” vote on Prop 3 will give Traverse City the right to vote on developments over 60 feet high. It doesn’t require votes on every future building, as incorrectly stated by a previous letter writer. If referendums are held during general elections, taxpayers pay nothing...

Beware Trump When the country you love have have served for 33 years is threatened, you have an obligation and a duty to speak out. Now is the time for all Americans to speak out against a possible Donald Trump presidency. During the past year Trump has been exposed as a pathological liar, a demagogue and a person who is totally unfit to assume the presidency of our already great country...

Picture Worth 1,000 Words Nobody disagrees with the need for affordable housing or that a certain level of density is dollar smart for TC. The issue is the proposed solution. If you haven’t already seen the architect’s rendition for the site, please Google “Pine Street Development Traverse City”...

Living Wage, Not Tall Buildings Our community deserves better than the StandUp TC “vote no” arguments. They are not truthful. Their yard signs say: “More Housing. Less Red Tape. Vote like you want your kids to live here.” The truth: More housing, but for whom? At what price..

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Random Thoughts

Monday, January 12, 2009

The value of fitness

Random Thoughts Robert Downes When my partner George Foster and I started this newspaper back in 1991, it was with the idea of having a strong emphasis on health and fitness.
We were both products of the fitness boom of the ’80s -- a time when running, biking, cross-country skiing and triathlons were more a way of life than something you did for fun.
Through the years, we’ve gotten soft on that side of the paper, but I still enjoy working on this annual tribute to fitness issue each January. It’s a reminder to reinvent ourselves each year.
A lot of you apparently feel the same way. I’ve been going to the same gym since ’91 and every January since then, the place has been packed with the newcomers.
But each year, the converts gradually taper off and the gym empties as the months go by. I once heard that the average newcomer to a fitness program lasts about 11 weeks before he or she caves in, but one of our local trainers thinks it might be more like six.
Monday, January 5, 2009

Moving On

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Moving On
Met a young guy over the holidays who is moving to Australia this week to take on a new job.
“How’s the economy doing there?” I asked.
“Not all that great, but better than here,” he said.
It sounds like a pretty sweet deal, working as an accountant in Brisbane, which is a city on Australia’s “Gold Coast” of spectacular beaches and tropical skies. Brad said he planned to learn how to surf and would be making frequent trips to New Zealand and New Guinea to audit businesses on behalf of the firm that is sending him Down Under.
Although he‘s from Florida, Brad‘s story made me think of all the people in Michigan who are moving on in search of a job.
Monday, December 29, 2008

A Brave Experiment

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Got a lump in my throat recently, reading the plans of the Detroit Free Press and News to go digital four days a week. Starting in March, the papers will end home delivery Monday-Thursday and begin offering an “electronic edition“ to subscribers for $12 per month.
Having had my first serious job as a paperboy with the Free Press at the age of 15, and then writing for the paper as a freelancer, it was a bit surreal to read the news of the online switch and come to grips with the “end of an era.“
But, considering the flight of readers to online sources for their news, it seems like a good plan. The key to its success will most likely be having an exact duplicate of the print version of the paper delivered online.
The electronic facsimile is a good way to go because current newspaper websites offer little or nothing for advertisers who pay the salaries of the reporters and editors who bring us the news.
Newspaper websites make it easy for readers to ditch their subscriptions. They‘re like candy stores giving away free lollipops out the back door and then wondering why there‘s no business up front.
So, perhaps the only way newspapers will survive will be by offering an exact duplicate of their publications online, complete with the ads that pay for the news.
Monday, December 22, 2008

If the shoe fits...

Random Thoughts Robert Downes There’s been so little fanfare over the latest news from Iraq that most Americans probably don’t have a clue: the war is essentially over.
Okay, let’s qualify that by saying “barring some unforseen calamity, the war is over...” because you just never know.
But on Thanksgiving Day, the Iraqi parliament approved a new security pact that requires the United States to withdraw our troops by 2011.
Monday, December 15, 2008

What would Mr. Scrooge think?

Random Thoughts Robert Downes What does Mr. Scrooge think about the Big 3 auto bailout?
Meaning, the Republican Scrooges in the Senate who killed the rescue of the auto industry last week, at a time when the recession is expected to last for years...
Let’s take a trip with the Ghost of Christmas Present, shall we?

Mr. Scrooge: “Bah, humbug! I’ll tell you what I think of these short-sighted, fat-cat dinosaurs from Detroit, dragging 400,000 GM retirees in their wake, like the chains of Jacob Marley... (Rattle, rattle) You UAW workers never voted for me in the first place, and it’s the banks I care about! The banks, the banks! Where’s my change purse? Ah, here, my dears -- a $700 billion contribution to you good bankers. Spend it as you will! No strings attached -- it’s Christmas, after all! Bless you, my boys.
“But for you miserable automakers and your blue collar ilk, only a lump of coal, and not a penny in my purse for you!”
Monday, December 8, 2008

Lunch at Leopold‘s

Random Thoughts Robert Downes If you’ve ever been to the Leopold Café in Mumbai, you probably felt right at home, even though it’s on the far side of the earth.
Having had lunch there a year ago November, it was especially sad and disturbing to see the puddles of blood on the floor of the café in the TV coverage of the Mumbai massacre. Ten people died on that scuffed and dirty floor, with at least 20 wounded as the terrorists came through the wall that opens to the street along what is called the Colaba Causeway.
Monday, December 1, 2008

We‘re moving to Europe...

Random Thoughts Robert Downes We‘re moving to Europe...
Has anyone noticed that America is starting to look more like Europe lately?
Not that we’re sprouting castles or seeing women going topless at the beach, but there are some trends toward the Europeanization of America that are worth watching. Some good, and some ennh...
Ten years from now, you may wake up and find that you have all of the advantages of a citizen of Paris or Budapest -- and all of the disadvantages too. Consider the following:
Monday, November 17, 2008

A new view for Sleeping Bear

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Seven years ago, there was a scorcher at the Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore. It wasn’t a forest fire (as is an ongoing fear of some who live next the the park); it was the flames of public opinion over a proposed Wilderness Management Plan that many locals thought was a bit extreme back in 2001.
To take you back to those days of pitchforks and torches, there was speculation that the park would close several dirt roads leading down to popular beaches along Sleeping Bear’s 35-mile coast. And that fishing for coho salmon would be limited. And that large sections of the park would be declared “wilderness” territory, accessible only by hikers.
It was a public relations disaster, as park-goers blew their collective stacks over the threat of limited access. But one thing the public outcry proved is that people love Sleeping Bear, even though it sometimes seems we’re on the verge of loving it to death during the summer months when thousands seek the paradise of its beaches.
Monday, November 10, 2008

Those dear little deer...

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Many years ago, the first snowfall in November used to be a cause for celebration in our family because it meant good tracking through the woods during the deer hunt. My dad and uncles were out before dawn on the first day of hunting season, and when they bagged a buck the excited talk of their deeds lit up the Thanksgiving table as they relived the fatal moment in the woods again and again. Those memories of the hunt were more precious than gold, and they would be taken out and polished for many years to come. Even when he was in his 80s, I recall my father talking about his first deer, taken at the age of 17 on the family farm outside Rockford.
I thought of those deer last week when the temperatures were in the 70s. By now, perhaps, they’re making tracks in the snow, seeking to elude the 700,000 or so deer hunters who swarm the forests and fields. But last week, they could have used some sunglasses.
Monday, November 3, 2008

Hope For America

Random Thoughts Robert Downes A generation ago, there was another man who brought hope to America in a time of crisis.
John F. Kennedy‘s greatest gift was bringing inspiration and a ringing challenge to young people who were hungry for hope at a time when we lived under the shadow of mushroom clouds and the Cold War.
Today, we face a new crisis: the threat of world-wide economic collapse.
And, as was the case in 1960, we need a leader who can inspire hope, especially in the hearts of young people. It‘s the young who need to be uplifted with an optimistic vision of their place in America‘s future, rather than a creeping sense of despair.
Monday, October 27, 2008

Looking Beyond the Election

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Here’s something we haven’t seen in many years: posted in a few yards around Traverse City you’ll find campaign signs for Obama next to those of Wayne Schmidt -- the Republican candidate for State Representative in the 104th District.
Say what? Is it possible that in some small way, we’re moving toward a spirit of bipartisanship? Sort of like a dog and cat snuggling up together when its too cold outside to bear their differences?
There’s been endless speculation in the press about undecided voters this year and who the independents will vote for in the national election.
But those “undecideds” are primarily Republicans who are thinking of jumping ship for the first time in their lives, the same way that many Democrats voted for Ronald Reagan in 1980.
This is why we’re seeing defections by the likes of Colin Powell, who served as Secretary of State under President Bush, and Christopher Buckley, the son of conservative icon William F. Buckley. Both are Republicans voting for Obama.
Call it the Reagan Effect.
Monday, October 20, 2008

Opponents of Proposal 2 clone around the facts

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Here are some questions for Joe Plumber:
Are you afraid that giant biomedical corporations will start pumping out human clones if Proposal 2 passes in Michigan this November?
Or, are you more afraid that you (or a member of your family) will someday come down with MS, diabetes, Lou Gehrig‘s disease, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, Krohn’s disease, blindness, cancer, heart disease, damaged organs, stroke and a host of other afflictions?
You know, things that may be cured someday by the stem cell research encouraged by Proposal 2.
Embryonic stem cell research is one of the greatest discoveries of our time. It has the potential to cure our most devastating illnesses. It’s possible that it will someday help quadriplegics rise from their beds, and make diseased hearts strong.
Monday, October 13, 2008

Fear Itself

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Gee, this is a great time to be young. Why? Because if you‘re in your teens or 20s, you probably have little or nothing in the stock market and haven‘t lost a dime in the crash.
While you kids were wisely investing your money in Jello shots, iTunes downloads and the latest Xbox games, your parents were foolishly gambling in the Wall Street Casino, where we‘ve lost thousands, tens of thousands, and even hundreds of thousands in the last few weeks on our 401Ks and other retirement plans.
If you‘ve been too busy playing Guitar Hero to keep up, here‘s the deal: The stock market has dropped by 40 percent of its value in the past year, with a wild roller coaster ride, spiralling ever downward.
And this time around, there hasn‘t been any inspiring leader at the helm to calm the sense of panic that‘s sweeping the world, as was the case in 1932, when presidential candidate Franklin D. Roosevelt declared that: “There is nothing to fear but fear itself.“
Monday, October 6, 2008

There Should Be Hell To Pay

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Back in college economics 101, we learned that the Great Depression could never happen again because our wise legislators had enacted many iron-clad regulations and safeguards to ensure that the stock market would never again reach such a state of peril.
But, like the chaos theory taught by the mathematician in Jurassic Park, you can never say never -- the destruction of those market regulations over the years has let the T-Rex out of its cage.
Thus, the rampage on Wall Street last week and terror plastered across the media. Let’s hope we don’t all get eaten alive by this thing.
Now, millions of Americans are of the opinion that the gamblers on Wall Street should bail themselves out. Why should we contribute a nickel to help these pirates? They can sink or swim.
But unfortunately, we are chained to the pirates. In some pirate navies, if you killed another sailor, your ankle was tied to his corpse and it was shoved overboard.
So, if you oppose the bailout, consider that you’re likely to go under too.
Monday, September 29, 2008

Big Government to the Rescue

Random Thoughts George Foster Big Government to the rescue?
Yikes, what happened over the last few days?
A little over a week ago Senator John McCain assured us the “fundamentals of our economy are strong.” Yet, last night President George Bush warned us that the economy is melting down so fast that a crisis of unprecedented proportions will occur if we don’t implement his radical plan immediately.