Letters

Letters 07-21-2014

Disheartened

While observing Fox News, it was disheartening to see what their viewers were subjected to. It seems the Republicans’ far right wing extremists are conveying their idealistic visions against various nationalities, social diversities or political beliefs with an absence of emotion concerning women’s health issues, children’s rights, voter suppression, Seniors, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid...

Things That Matter

All of us in small towns and large not only have the right to speak on behalf of our neighbors and ourselves, we have the duty and responsibility to do so -- and 238 years ago, we made a clear Declaration to do just that...

An Anecdote Driven Mind

So, is Thomas Kachadurian now the Northern Express’ official resident ranter? His recent factfree, hard-hearted column suggests it. While others complain about the poor condition of Michigan’s roads and highways, he rants against those we employ to fix them...

No On Prop 1

Are we being conned? Are those urging us to say “yes” to supposedly ”revenue neutral” ballot proposal 1 on August 5 telling us all the pertinent facts? Proposal 1 would eliminate the personal property tax businesses pay to local governments, replacing its revenue with a share of Michigan’s 6 percent use tax paid by us all on out-of-state purchases, hotel accommodations, some equipment rentals, and telecommunications...

Fix VA Tragedy

The problems within the Veterans Administration identified under former President Bush continue to hinder the delivery of quality health care to the influx of physically wounded and emotionally damaged young men and women...

Women Take Note

I find an interesting link between the Supreme Court Hobby Lobby and the crisis on the southern border. Angry protesters shout at children to go home. These children are scared, tired, hungry and thirsty, sent to US prisons awaiting deportation to a country where they may very likely be killed...


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Random Thoughts

 
Thursday, April 12, 2007

Spring Sports Roundup

Random Thoughts George Foster You can just sense the baseball ghosts of Mickey Lolich, Al Kaline, Jack Morris, Kirk Gibson, and other World Series heroes lurking around Comerica Park in downtown Detroit this year. Almost everyone is expecting another run at the World Series for the Tigers. It’s amazing how seriously the experts are taking them after decades of losing seasons.
The main reason for the sudden success is the man behind the scenes, Dave Dombrowski. The Detroit general manager has stockpiled the Tigers system with numerous young arms whose pitching could carry the Tigers into contention for the post-season for at least the next decade.
 
Thursday, April 5, 2007

Our Front Row Seat on the War

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Thanks to the Traverse City Film Festival, some of us locals are a bit more tuned in to the value of documentary film. I dare say we’re even more in the know about documentaries now than cinema hipsters and film connoisseurs living in artsy places like SoHo or L.A.
With its focus on documentaries, the festival has brought us everything from the joys of being eaten by grizzly bears to the perils of obsessing over crossword puzzles.
And there‘s no better tool for understanding the war in Iraq.
Documentaries on the war take us into the hearts and minds of the soldiers and civilians caught in Iraq. Watch a few of these films and you’ll soon discover how miserable the mainstream TV network coverage is by comparison.
 
Thursday, March 29, 2007

Most Scandalous Presidents

Random Thoughts George Foster It seems like political corruption increases with each new presidential administration. Or could it be that noise from opponents is more deafening each term?
Lately, political junkies have been in heaven. It seems like a new political scandal breaks out almost every hour. Over the last couple of weeks, we have been treated to the following disclosures: Vice-Presidential aide Scooter Libby’s perjury conviction, the Walter Reed Hospital deficiencies in care for wounded soldiers, accusations of U.S. government funds being funneled to Sunni groups with terrorist ties, millions of Iraqis leaving war-torn Iraq for Syria and Jordan (our administration doesn’t acknowledge a refugee problem), the callous treatment of Iraqis who have put their lives on the line by working with the U.S. Government, word from some soldiers that the U.S. military is sending injured troops back to Iraq, Halliburton moving its headquarters to Dubai, the mid-term firing of U.S. attorneys for political reasons, and... whew, that’s enough for now.
 
Thursday, March 22, 2007

The Math Rebellion

Random Thoughts Robert Downes It looks as though the Great Math Rebellion of 2007 is starting to wind down in Traverse City as school officials and parents do the arithmetic of gettin’ their heads together and solving the problem. Whew!
Some kids reportedly can’t understand the new “reformed math,” which employs a new problem-solving process. Ditto for parents, trying to help out.
I asked an expert what she thought of the high school math program: my daughter Chloe, who graduated a couple of years ago and is now in business school (I’m proud to say). She said she liked her high school Compass math program because it taught her how to work out problems in the real world... although in new ways that might be adrift from what us parents recall from our readin’, writin’ and ‘rithmetic daze...
So, different strokes for different folks.
 
Thursday, March 15, 2007

Abby and Me

Random Thoughts George Foster I live with a cat that may be one of the orneriest cats to ever strut around Northern Michigan.
After years of being around her, she still growled and swatted at my intruding feet when I walked too closely. She tolerates being petted around her neck, but only fools accidentally stray below her head - a sudden hiss and bite await these encroachments. And I like cats... at least I used to.
When I married recently, I knew this cat was part of my wife’s household.
 
Thursday, March 8, 2007

The Spiritual Thing

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Are you a spiritual person? This being our annual “Mind-Body-Spirit” issue, it seems a good time to ask.
What does it mean to be “spiritual”?
That’s a question my generation has struggled with since the ’60s, when we read “Siddhartha” in college, discovered yoga, transcendental meditation, the I Ching, turned Jesus freak, joined communes... But, being Americans, our quest was more about style than substance, so when the next big thing came along (disco, the “Me Generation,” the running boom, Reaganism... ), we bailed out on spirituality.
Plus, no one could ever quite figure out what it was to be “spiritual,” other than acting kind of dreamy and yearning to live “up there” in a disembodied existence, as vacant as a glass of water in Buddha’s kitchen. The rock group Procol Harum summed-up the mumbo-jumbo of the spiritual quest in their song about a wise old yogi telling a young seeker the meaning of life: “Oh, my son -- life is like a beanstalk, isn’t it?”
Right.
 
Thursday, March 1, 2007

A Puff of Freedom

Random Thoughts Robert Downes As a former smoker, I can’t say enough bad things about this evil addiction. It kills 500,000 Americans every year and is surely as addictive as heroin. In a rational world, smoking would be outlawed completely as being as dangerous as cocaine in the long run.
And yet, I couldn’t help but breathe a sigh of relief when Grand Traverse County voted against taking the steps which would result in a county-wide ordinance to ban smoking in public places.
Why? Because as county commissioner Dick Thomas stated in a recent Record-Eagle article, such a ban would mean “more big brotherism.” And brother, we’ve got too much of that in America as it is.
Unfortunately, there’s a streak of neo-puritanism that runs deep in our country which knows no ideology. For every conservative who’s worried about what you do in the privacy of your own bedroom, there’s a progressive counterpart hell-bent on legislating morality “for your own good.” And both political camps tend to have paid, professional advocates working full time to chip away at individual liberties.
 
Thursday, February 22, 2007

The New Vacation Paradise: Nicaragua

Random Thoughts George Foster Where can you travel for perfect tropical weather, beautiful beaches, magnificent volcanoes, friendly locals, and live well for under $25 a day? Maybe Hawaii in the 16th century, right?
Travel to Nicaragua is well under the radar for North American vacationers. Though I planned such a trip with two other backpackers, who also had some low-budget travel experience in Central America, we didn’t really know what to expect. Most acquaintances ominously warned me to stay away.
 
Thursday, February 15, 2007

Finding a way forward

Random Thoughts Robert Downes “Our future is directly tied to our ability to develop, attract, and retain concentrations of skilled people.“

-- Mark Murray, president of Meijer, Inc., commenting on Michigan‘s future in the State‘s Emergency Financial Advisory Panel Report

Americans have never been keen on taxes, going back to the days of the Boston Tea Party. And the anti-tax mantra has accelerated since the presidency of Ronald Reagan to the point where any suggestion of raising taxes has become a cardinal sin.
It doesn‘t help that government often wastes our tax dollars with an obscene ineptitude. For instance, the news last week that $9 billion of our tax dollars have gone missing in Iraq. Turns out that the Bush administration bundled up 363 tons of cash in bricks of $100 bills and flew it to Iraq during the early days of the war to help with reconstruction. Then the money simply... disappeared. Apparently, people (including contractors already on our payroll) just showed up in Baghdad with garbage bags and shoveled in the loot under any pretense, with no accountability.
So who can blame Michigan citizens for grumbling over the news that Governor Granholm has proposed a 2% tax on services to help balance the state‘s budget? The services would include everything from haircuts to auto repairs, lawyers, accountants and movie and concert tickets.
 
Thursday, February 8, 2007

Where all roads lead

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Stumbled across a good book over the holidays. A real page-turner; couldn’t put it down. Even got up at 6 a.m. one weekend to read more. That doesn’t usually happen when a book was written more than 2,000 years ago.
It’s “The Gallic Wars” by Julius Caesar, written during his conquest of Europe during 58-51 B.C. And what Julius went through back then seems eerily familiar today.
In those days the area of Europe including France, Switzerland and the Netherlands was known as Gaul. Caesar led his Roman legions against dozens of tribes, some of which raised armies of 60,000-100,000 warriors, hellbent on protecting their homeland.
 
Thursday, February 1, 2007

Most memorable Super Bowl moments

Random Thoughts George Foster Ah, it is that time of year again. On Super Bowl Sunday more Americans will be glued to the TV, watching football, than any other sporting event all season. Who will we come away talking about - a superstar who falls flat on his face or some obscure player who rises to the occasion of football’s biggest spotlight? Here are the most unforgettable Super Bowl moments so far (in reverse order):
(10). Pittsburgh’s Lynn Swann makes an acrobatic sensational TD catch while falling down in 1976. The Steelers win again.
 
Thursday, January 25, 2007

The Bitter Pill

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Ever wonder why prescription drugs cost so much in America when they’re so much cheaper in countries such as Canada?
Do you have prescription drug costs ranging into the thousands of dollars each year? Are you elderly and living on a limited income? Do you have to choose between buying the drugs that will save your life or paying for food and heat?
Well, tough beans. Because according to conservative pundits, you are nothing more than a “greedy granny,” trying to get Uncle Sam or his Canadian counterpart to lend a hand when you should be paying through the nose like everyone else.
 
Thursday, January 18, 2007

Please come home, Marty Kardes

Random Thoughts George Foster Eleven days ago, on New Years Eve morning, Leonard (Marty) Kardes was last seen walking down Cedar Creek Road (near Fife Lake, Michigan) and hasn’t been seen since.
Finding Kardes very soon is critical since he uses medication for diabetes and has been disoriented and depressed lately. Kardes served as a Navy Seal in the military.
According to family members, his problems could be a result of Agent Orange exposure in Vietnam many years ago.
 
Thursday, January 11, 2007

To Blog or not to Blog

Random Thoughts Robert Downes To Blog or Not to Blog?
I got you something really nice for Christmas this year that you won’t get from almost any other forward-thinking newspaper editor in the country.
What is it? Take a guess. Give up?
Okay, here it is. I’m going to spare you the torture of reading an Editor’s Blog.
Blogging is the new hot trend in journalism, even though there are millions of blogs in cyberspace already, wiggling like mental spermatozoa in search of a brain to fertilize.
Blogs from editors and reporters are hatching on newspaper websites like a bogful of frog eggs. And mostly, they‘re about as tasty.
 
Thursday, January 4, 2007

Comfortable numb at the gym

Random Thoughts Robert Downes ’Tis the season to get back in the gym. Some of us have never left it; we’ve been noodling at stairmasters and weights, aerobics and yoga all year long in a lackluster way, waiting for our winter cousins to show up for their annual visit, which tends to run from January through April.
It can get downright lonely in the gym during the heat of the summer, but after the New Year, the place is packed with stinky people once again and it’s hard to find a stray machine in need of company. Every stairmaster, treadmill and exercycle is hammering like an 18-cylinder sports car.
 
 
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