Letters 12-05-2016

Trump going back on promises I’m beginning to suspect that we’ve been conned by our new president. He’s backpedaling on nearly every campaign promise he made to us...

This Christmas, think before you speak Now that Trump has won the election, a lot of folks who call themselves Christians seem to believe they have a mandate to force their beliefs on the rest of us. Think about doing this before you start yelling about people saying “happy holidays,” whining about Starbucks coffee cup image(s), complaining about other’s lifestyles…

First Amendment protects prayer (Re: Atheist Gary Singer’s contribution to the Crossed column titled “What will it take to make America great again?” in the Nov. 21 edition of Northern Express.) Mr. Singer, the First Amendment states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof …”

Evidence of global warming Two basic facts underlay climate science: first, carbon dioxide was known to be a heat-trapping gas as early as 1850; and second, humans are significantly increasing the amount of CO2 in Earth’s atmosphere through the burning of fossil fuels and other activities. We are in fact well on our way to doubling the CO2 concentrations in our atmosphere...

Other community backpack programs I just read your article in the Nov. 28 issue titled “Beneficial backpacks: Two local programs help children.” It is a good article, but there are at least two other such programs in the Traverse City area that I am aware of...

A ‘fox’ in the schoolhouse Trump’s proposed secretary of education, Betsy DeVos (“the fox” in Dutch), is a right-wing billionaire; relentless promoter of unlimited, unregulated charter schools and vouchers; and enemy of public schooling...

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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.