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, September 14, 2006

Real Diversity

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Was that you I saw at the recent Clover Festival by the bay in TC? Probably not, since it was very sparsely attended.
A pity, because this world-class event looked like a million bucks and the few hundred who turned out seemed blown away by the performances, which included many Grammy winners and stars of the gospel and techno world. For once, Northern Michigan was ahead of the curve.
Thursday, September 7, 2006

Men deserve purses, too

Random Thoughts George Foster In a song from the 1960s, an old Motown band rates the various qualities to look for in women, but concludes, “...first I look at the purse.”
I, too, have made a study of the purse... those carried by men. We need to brace ourselves, guys. In the future, every man will own a purse. Not a wallet, I mean a real honest-to-goodness handbag with shoulder straps, multi-pocketed, and room enough to fill with guy’s stuff.
I knew this was coming. You see, in the late 1960s and early 1970s, I admit to using a purse. At college, some kind of bag to carry books seemed only reasonable. After observing a star basketball player on campus using a purse (a frilly one at that), I decided not to concern myself with how my manhood might be perceived in public. When asked, I informed friends that I had purchased a “pouch” at the army surplus store. At that moment in my maturity, I was still not ready to concede I had been reduced to carrying a purse.
Thursday, August 31, 2006

Danger Everywhere

Random Thoughts Robert Downes You have to give the human race credit: if there’s a beautiful, untouched spot anywhere on earth that inspires an uplifting, spiritual experience just by its very existence, then you can be sure there’s some busybody scheming to do whatever it takes to wreck it.
Such is often the case right here in Northern Michigan.
There’s a plan in the works to drain Boardman Pond -- also known as Keystone Pond -- a lovely mirror of nature just south of Traverse City.
According to engineers working with Michigan’s DNR and DEQ, if a 104-year-old dam downstream from the pond ever collapsed or overfilled its rim, the resulting splash could give a few area businesses and residents a bad case of soggy shorts.
Thursday, August 24, 2006

Innocent until proven...

Random Thoughts George Foster Recently, when John Karr was arrested and confessed to the killing of then six-year old JonBenet Ramsey, it was stunning news. This is a ten-year-old case that many thought would never be solved.
Well, hold on. This bizarre murder appears ready to take a few more wild turns before it is done. At this moment, there are few details of the accused man and circumstances. Some don’t believe the suspect was anywhere near Boulder on Christmas, 1996 - he might just like the attention.
Thursday, August 17, 2006

Music Festival Autopsy

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Over the past 15 years, we at the Express have had front-row seats on the success and failure of many music festivals here in Northern Michigan. We’ve written about many festivals in advance, we’ve attended them, and we’ve seen them bob up and down on the waves of fate.
Some, like the BlissFest, have made steady gains through the years. Others, such as a series of rock & reggae festivals at Castle Farms in the early ’90s or a riverfront festival two years ago in TC, had poor attendance and sank like stones.
Thursday, August 10, 2006

End of an Era in Cuba

Random Thoughts George Foster When it was announced last week that Fidel Castro was turning over control of Cuba’s government to brother Raul, wild dancing broke out in the streets of Miami’s Cuban-American community.
Many of these Cuban exiles and their children have waited almost 50 years for this news. Beginning in 1959, Fidel’s Communist government outlawed political opposition and scooped up most of the island’s property, prompting hundreds of thousands of the educated and affluent Cubans to leave for the U.S. For them, Fidel represents everything bad that has happened to Cuba.
Some dreamers in Miami and elsewhere believe Cuba will soon become a democracy, an idea as foreign there as in Iraq. “I don’t know why people are jumping around,” Cuban-American and former Detroit Tiger Barbaro Garbey said this week. “We hope that the system changes, a little more democracy. But it will be very difficult to change that system in Cuba - Fidel, Raul or whoever is coming from the Communist Party, it’s going to be the same thing.”
Thursday, August 3, 2006

The Body Count

Random Thoughts Robert Downes “Iraqi Death Toll Rises Above 100 Per Day, U.N. Says” -- July 18 headline in the New York Times
That headline was repeated in newspapers around the country recently. No doubt it barely raised a yawn from most Americans, for whom the war is just a rumor. The war is just heat lightning far beyond the horizon -- you can’t even hear the thunder, it’s half a world away.
Thursday, July 27, 2006

Say Goodbye to the Bush Doctrine

Random Thoughts George Foster Whatever happened to this administration’s crusade to create and prop up
democracies - by force if necessary - as the cornerstone of U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East?
The fledgling, democratic government in Lebanon has been brought to its knees
after being pounded by Israel’s military with
support from the Bush adminstration. While it is true that the terrorist wing of the
Hezbollah party in Lebanon provoked the latest explosion of violence, it is difficult to justify wiping out scores of innocent
Lebanese at the expense of killing relatively few terrorists.
Israel has the right to defend itself and is understandably angry by the unprovoked attack on its troops by Hezbollah. But, does Israel really expect the weak Lebanese government to subdue Hezbollah terrorists?
Israel itself was unable to extricate Hezbollah during its 18 years of occupying southern Lebanon. Israel knows that the defenseless Lebanese government couldn’t kick out the June Taylor Dancers if they were holed up in Beirut.
Thursday, July 20, 2006

Film Fest Follies & More

Random Thoughts Robert Downes What would the Traverse City Film Festival be without controversy? This year it involves Al Gore’s film, An Inconvenient Truth.
Not that the film is controversial. There’s been near-unanimous praise for Gore’s warning on the perils global warming. The film is a shoo-in to win the Oscar next year. Roger Ebert gave it a four-star review.
But members of the local Sierra Club are irritated with the film fest camp for having An Inconvenient Truth pulled from a special showing at Horizon Cinema in TC so that it could debut at the festival instead.
A Sierra Club member says that Horizon had plans to show An Inconvenient Truth for a five-day run to be kicked off with a special night with the conservation club. “Horizon Cinema was so excited about it and they were going to sell us tickets for $5.50 each,” says the club member.
The Sierra Club sold 65 tickets for the event and then -- poof -- they got a call from Horizon saying that someone had pulled strings to yank the film so it could debut at the film fest instead. The theater owners were reportedly P-O’ed and so were members of the Sierra Club.
“So many people could have seen it rather than a few elites at the film festival,” says our source.
Whodunnit? No one seems to know, but festival organizer Michael Moore is said to have been very irritated when local rabble-rouser Bruce Peterson saddled him with the blame in an email to area progressives.
Imagine the squawk there would have been if someone had tried to suppress Fahrenheit 911 at Horizon Cinema. Yet now (justified or not) Moore‘s peeps find themselves cast in that same dastardly role.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

The crushing debt of the college grad

Random Thoughts Robert Downes It’s the time of year when many of the big publications trot out the latest horror stories on the crushing debt that college students graduated with this summer.
USA Today reports that the average senior was more than $19,000 in debt when he or she walked across the stage to grasp a diploma.
But as writer Sandra Block notes: “That’s a problem Joe Palazzolo would love to have.”
Thursday, July 6, 2006

Fire on the Mountain

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Going on a trip this summer? Chances are you’ll hear something about the local impact of global warming just about anywhere you go in America.
Forest fires, floods, hurricanes, drought... Sure, some Americans still scoff at global warming when the likes of drug-addled Rush Limbaugh and the right-wing media pooh-pooh it as not even existing. But increasingly, it’s a topic of concern just about everywhere you go in America.
Thursday, June 29, 2006

World Cup and Other Observations

Random Thoughts George Foster No one should have been surprised.
Compared to expectations, the U.S. performance was the poorest of any team in the World Cup soccer tournament. The Americans meekly scored only two goals in three games - and one was by an opponent into the wrong net. Talk about not having a chance, the U.S. never held the lead in any game.
Thursday, June 22, 2006

Still another turning point in Iraq

Random Thoughts George Foster It is about time.
For three years, thousands of Iraqi and U.S. military agents have chased the murderous terrorist, Abu Mousab al-Zaqawi, in a country not much larger than the state of Michigan. When the elusive leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq was recently killed in a farmhouse by two 500 pound bombs launched by F-16 fighter jets, many including President Bush tempered their response as to its significance.
Thursday, June 15, 2006

Our Charm Crisis

Random Thoughts Robert Downes I was very sorry to learn last week that there are plans to pave 17 miles of the old gravel road along the Pictured Rocks between Munising and Grand Marais in the Upper Peninsula.
I’ve been down Alger County Highway 58 every few years since childhood. It’s the perfect road for getting that “lost in the woods way up north” feeling. The trip seems to take forever, through a desolate plain of pine stumps and then slowly winding through a conifer forest to Munising.
Thursday, June 8, 2006

Dick DeVos: Symptom or Cure

Random Thoughts Robert Downes The Pearl Tower in Shanghai is the proud symbol of China’s economic hopes. From the 1,148-foot-high observation deck of this TV tower, you can see modern China bursting with new office towers, factories, freeways and all of the signs of new jobs and prosperity. You can catch a glimpse of the tower in Tom Cruise’s new thriller, MI-III. It looks like a giant pearl attached to a knitting needle.
But look at the tower from ground level across the Huangpu River and you’ll notice something else: a giant Amway banner plastered along the waterfront at the base of the Pearl Tower.
For a visitor from Michigan, the Amway banner stirs bittersweet feelings. Do you feel proud that a Michigan company, launched in 1959 in little old Ada outside Grand Rapids, is doing so well in China? Or do you feel that there must be some truth to the claims of the Democratic Party that Amway outsourced 1,400 jobs to China?
The banner makes you wonder if Michigan workers have been screwed by Amway the same as by other multinational corporations that have fled our state for cheaper labor in Mexico, Korea, China or India.
Dick DeVos, candidate for governor and former head of Amway’s parent company, Alticor, claims that not a single Michigan job has been lost to China. In fact, he says, Alticor’s expansion to China in 1995 actually created 300 high-paying jobs in Michigan.