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

Thursday, December 28, 2006

A feerless forecast for 2007

Random Thoughts George Foster I know, I know. We live in volatile, topsy-turvy times. What kind of fool would attempt to prophesize in this climate of change? Yet, my confidence in the following forecasts for 2007 is unshakable. Consider each of the following the predictions to be a lock. You can take them to the bank. I guarantee each and every one of them. So, bet the farm on these picks, if you can.
Our troops will begin to leave Iraq by the end of 2007. This is true, not because of the Baker Report, not because of growing deaths due to violence, and definitely not because of the new Democratic Congress. President Bush will cut-and-run because Republican Congressmen, who formerly supported the Iraq War, will fire-bomb the White House themselves if the President doesn’t eliminate the war as an issue leading up to the next election.
The Detroit Lions will finish 8-8 next season. No NFL team can win with the mass of injuries the Lions suffered in 2006. There is nowhere to go but up for the Lions - and they will. GM Matt Millen has finally found the right head coach for the job, but they still need a healthier team for an upswing.
Thursday, December 21, 2006

D-Day 2006, What if Iraq was fought like WW II

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Tomorrow morning, patriotic Americans will be cheering as the airwaves buzz with the news that 1,500,000 additional troops have launched a second invasion of Iraq to smash the insurgents.
The event will go down in history as being comparable to the surprise D-Day invasion of France in 1944.
In his autobiography written years later in 2019, former President George W. Bush unveiled the workings behind his top secret plan which surprised the whole world. How, on Thursday, Dec. 21, 2006 the skies of Iraq were filled with parachutes and the streets choked with tanks as the U.S. Army, Navy and Marines launched Operation Squawking Eagle. The 1.5 million troops came from bases around the world which were drained of their personnel.
Thursday, December 14, 2006

Doing something about Darfur

Random Thoughts Robert Downes In the desert of western Sudan, a 35-year-old woman named Hatum is “pregnant with the baby of one of 20 Janjaweed raiders who murdered her husband and then gang-raped her.”
Those are the words of Nicholas D. Kristof of the New York Times who has spent the past few years trying to rub the western world’s face in the genocide underway in Africa’s largest country.
Thursday, December 7, 2006

Indiscriminate thoughts on discrimination

Random Thoughts George Foster Thank goodness for modern technology.
Without the small digital camera that filmed Kramer… I mean, Michael Richards, his racial tirade might never have been revealed. If nothing else, our camera-phone obsession should provide a deterrent effect that may help eliminate such acts of racism.
Thursday, November 30, 2006

On the Wings of Lead

Random Thoughts Robert Downes I used to love flying. There’s nothing like the adventure of stepping onto a jet and into distant places in a matter of hours. But that old thrill has been replaced by dread in recent years and the feeling that the airlines have some grand plan to screw up every flight I take.
You too?
I know this falls in the “whining” category, but given the fact that so many of us fly these days to family get-togethers, on business or vacations, it sure seems like there are some broken wings in the airline industry in need of mending.
Take our trip to Philadelphia last weekend, for instance. It was a simple trip of a
few hundred miles -- Traverse City to Detroit and then to the land of cheesesteak sandwiches. How could anyone screw that up?
Northwest Airlines provided the answer. Our flight was delayed half an hour at Cherry Capital Airport because something on the plane was broken -- I believe the pilot said it was the altimeter -- and it had to be replaced.
Right away, several people missed their connecting flights.
Thursday, November 23, 2006

The Family Feud

Random Thoughts Robert Downes It all started more than 1,400 years ago...
Imagine an infant born in 569 in old Arabia. Since his father had died a
few months earlier, he was given to a Bedouin foster mother to be raised
as a nomad in the desert. She died when he was six. Passed from one poor
relative to another, young Muhammad began to earn his own living at the
age of eight as a shepherd. By age 10, he journeyed in a camel caravan to
Syria with his uncle. It was the start of his career as a merchant. He
soon became known for his honesty, charisma and kindness.
Thursday, November 16, 2006

The Midterm Elections: A Victory for America

Random Thoughts George Foster Last Tuesday, tidal waves of Democrats were swept into office by ornery voters in a rebellious mood. As a result, Republicans are now licking their wounds, while Democrats celebrate grabbing control of both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.
Before you giddy Democrats get too carried away, don’t forget that our country’s ideological divide is still about the same. After the floodwaters of this election recede, Democrats will be a slight majority in Congress. Republicans were barely
in charge before that. Fed-up voters wanted to make a statement - you can decide
what it was.
Thursday, November 9, 2006

Polly want a cracker? No thanks

Random Thoughts Robert Downes My wife and I were quite surprised to get several telephone calls from our State Rep. Howard Walker last week.
Needless to say, as soon as we realized that it was a recorded message, we hung up the phone. I think he was calling -- at the dinner hour, of course -- to bother us with the slight virtues of Dick DeVos.
Now, I have always thought that Howard Walker was an okay state representative. Unlike some, he doesn‘t seem to get involved with a lot of needless, money-wasting legislation. And I said some good things about him in this column in a prior election for his support on conservation and anti-sprawl issues.
Thursday, November 2, 2006

Why we need a change

Random Thoughts Robert Downes If I‘m asleep at the wheel when my semi truck loaded with steel goes barreling through a day care at 70 mph, should I lose my job?
If I own a pit bull that‘s been trained to kill and I recklessly allow it to run free, am I to blame if it harms a child?
What if I‘m a member of Congress and I allow an incompetent president to run amok for six years, piling one disaster after another on my fellow Americans. Do I deserve to lose my job?
Yes, I imagine so.
Thursday, October 26, 2006

Unsrambling the ballot proposals

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Wading through the swamp of ballot proposals is one of the toughest things we face as voters. Here is the quicksand of hidden intentions, the muck of double meanings and unspoken disasters which bubble to the surface if the wrong vote is cast.
Sometimes, however, a little folk wisdom and common sense can go a long way to unscrambling the most obscure of ballot proposals. I’ve applied a few tried-and-true sayings to this year’s proposals in the hope that they may be helpful:
Thursday, October 19, 2006

The 2006 October Surprise Detroit Tigers

Random Thoughts George Foster If this season’s Detroit Tigers wins the World Series, it may be the most unusual club to do so. Their run through the regular season and playoffs has brought unusual drama to the sport.
How can a team stampede toward the World Series only three years after compiling the 2nd worst record in Major League Baseball history? Even a year ago the team lost 19 more games than it won. It would be different if the Tigers spent mega-millions for several stud players before the season, but - no. This baseball team somehow wins without a bonafide superstar.
Thursday, October 12, 2006

The colorblind society?

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Whenever a ballot proposal starts off on a deceptive note, we need to be on guard. Such is the case with the “Michigan Civil Rights Initiative,” or Proposal 2, which uses the bait-and-switch approach to wrap itself in the heritage of the civil rights movement while attempting to roll back 50 years of progress for minorities and women.
The people behind Proposal 2 have goals which sound lofty -- they claim they are trying to create a colorblind society where everyone is equal. Proposal 2 would end “preferences based on race, sex, skin color, ethnicity or national origin in public employment, public contracting and college admissions.”
If passed by voters this November, Proposal 2 would affect public employment, public education, and public contracting throughout Michigan.
Presto-chango: an instant equal society -- all problems solved.
But the devil is in the details.
Thursday, October 5, 2006

Why our troops must leave Iraq

Random Thoughts George Foster Most Iraqis now hate Americans and can’t wait for us to get the hell out of their country. More alarmingly, the number of Iraqis who feel this way is still growing.
If you doubt this fact, as I did, you probably haven’t seen the latest polls from Iraq, itself. These results hit me like a thunderbolt, but unfortunately didn’t attract many headlines in the U.S.
The shocking conclusions from the latest independent study shows that 61% of Iraqis approve attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq. Not attacks “by” our troops, they support attacks “on” the U.S. military.
Thursday, September 28, 2006

Another brick in the wall

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Who doesn‘t love the idea of a wall to solve a problem? Last week, President Bush announced that he‘ll sign pending legislation for a new 700-mile wall along the U.S.-Mexican border.
It‘s a double-layer steel fence with five segments running along the sensitive
areas of our 2,000-mile border where illegal migrants are most likely to sneak through. The $2.5 billion wall will include all the bells & whistles such as 1,800 surveillance towers, extra patrols, unmanned aerial drones, motion detectors, satellites, radar, night vision cameras, etc.
Thursday, September 21, 2006

A Rough Road for the Guardian of Spirits

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Life hasn’t been easy for Sue Ellen Austin Gilmore.
Chronic illness, poverty, the dashing of a family business, and now there‘s literally a road of trouble looming on her horizon.
She and her husband John have been living on just $8,000 per year for the past three years while he struggled to finish nursing school.
Now, they face an assessment of up to $3,000 per year for a road project in Whitewater Township outside Williamsburg that would pave Deal Road where they live. Unless they catch a break from the Grand Traverse County Road Commission, they stand to lose their home of 27 years due to an assessment they’ll be unable to pay.
But that’s just the frosting on the cake for the Gilmores.