Letters

Letters 09-01-2014

Hamas Shares Some Blame

Even when I disagree with Mr. Tuttle, I always credit him with a degree of fairness. Unfortunately, in his piece regarding the Palestinian/Israeli conflict he falls well short of offering any insights that might advance his readers’ understanding of the conflict...

The True Northport

I was disappointed by your piece on Northport. While I agree that the sewer system had a big impact on the village, I don’t agree with your “power of retirees” position. I see that I am thrown in with the group of new businesses started by “well-off retirees” and I feel that I have been thoroughly misrepresented, as has the village...

Conservatives and Obamacare

What is it about Obamacare that sends conservatives over the edge? There are some obvious answers...

Republican Times

I read the letter from Don Turner of Beulah and it seems he lives in that magical part of the Fox News Universe where no matter how many offices the Republican Party controls they are not responsible for anything bad that happens...

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Random Thoughts

 
Monday, August 10, 2009

Banking Promises Broken

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Random Thoughts
Banking promises broken
Robert Downes 8/10/09

Banks have been given billions of dollars over the past year to help lower the mortgages of homeowners in danger of foreclosing. But, as noted in the financial news last week, those funds aren‘t being used as intended. And while banks are making record profits and dishing out billions in bonuses to their employees, the pain in Main Street, America continues.
Take the case of William, a 41-year-old single dad who bought his home near East Bay in Traverse City three years ago for $145,000.
Last week, William (that‘s his middle name) saw his dream of home ownership threatened when his house went up for a foreclosure auction in a sheriff‘s sale.
The good news for William is that no one bid on his house, partly, he says, because mortgage holder, Wells Fargo, tacked on $15,000 in interest as well as fees and penalties for an asking price of $164,000, pricing the modest house out of the market. Now, he says, the home goes back to the note-holder and will be relisted by a realtor friend of his. William‘s parents plan to buy the home and sell it back to him in a year or so when he‘s back on his feet.
Complicated? Yes. Unnecessary? Probably, considering William‘s eight-month struggle with Wells Fargo to try lowering his 9.9 percent mortgage.
 
Monday, August 3, 2009

Pearls before swine/An unwelcome dip

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Pearls Before Swine
Robert Downes 8/3/09
Back at my first newspaper job in 1979, there was a woman in the graphic
design department who often worked until midnight on deadline, typing our
junk into long strips of plasticized paper which were then waxed and
pasted on sheets to send to the printer.
 
Monday, July 27, 2009

Trust & Consequences

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Random Thoughts 7/27/09
Robert Downes
Trust & Consequences
If your spouse was caught fooling around under the covers with someone else, would you go on national TV and stand behind him (or her) and make like it’s all nicey-nicey now and you’re on the road to “healing”?
We’ve seen a parade of political ‘Stepford Wives’ standing behind their men at press conferences over the past few years. Consider the rogue‘s gallery:
• New York Governor Eliot Spitzer spends $7,000 a pop to have sex without a condom with a call girl.
• New Jersey Gov. Jim McGreevey drops the bomb on TV (and his wife) that he’s gay.
• Idaho Sen. Larry Craig is caught seeking sex with other men in a Minneapolis airport bathroom.
• Presidential candidate John Edwards is caught making a baby with his “videographer.”
 
Monday, July 20, 2009

There aughta‘ be a law...

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Random Thought
There aughta‘ be a law...
Robert Downes 7/20/09
Here‘s another idea for marketing Michigan out of its troubles. Allow every restaurant in the state to sell Michigan-made beers and wines without a liquor license.
A bright spot in Michigan‘s economy is the success of our wineries and microbreweries. We have more than 50 wineries in the state, and as Rick Coates has noted in his “Bottoms Up“ column, Michigan is now considered one of the top destinations in America for the quality of its brewpubs and microbrews.
So what is Lansing doing to coax this goose into laying more golden eggs? Lip service.
 
Monday, July 13, 2009

Our magic bubble

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Random Thoughts
Robert Downes 7/13/09
Our Magic Bubble
The recession doesn‘t seem to be putting much of a dent in Northern Michigan this summer, where cool weather has driven tourists off the beaches and into stores and restaurants to benefit the region‘s economy.
Anecdotally, we‘ve heard from our writers that tourism is down in some of the smaller towns around Northern Michigan, but you wouldn‘t know that in Traverse City, where we‘re recovering from the National Cherry Festival and its 500,000 visitors, while bracing for the TC Film Festival to start at the end of the month. The sidewalks in town were packed in early July as we weathered temperatures that seemed more in line with October. Rest assured, tourists, we locals also look forward to beach weather, since we‘re barely out of our winter coats.
 
Monday, July 6, 2009

The Old Boat

Random Thoughts Robert Downes The Old Boat
Robert Downes 7/6/09
I bought an old sailboat a few years ago and have since been soaked with the thrill of discovering the ‘other’ side of Northern Michigan that starts at the waterline.
“Missbehavin’” is a 31-year-old junker with an appalling number of broken, missing, loose or frayed parts. Since I don’t know enough about sailboats to know exactly what should go where or how, I’ve taken to patching Missbehavin’ up with bungee cords, the greatest invention known to man this side of duct tape.
Built in 1978, Missbehavin’ is a CL-16 dinghy, meaning a Canadian version of the 16-foot Wayfarer, which was a popular racing boat prior to the invention of the catamaran and the Laser. I bought it used from the Traverse Area Community Sailing club; apparently the dinghy once belonged to a well-loved sailor who used to ply it up and down Lake Leelanau. Since it‘s bad luck to rename a boat, I’ve kept the original name, even though she’s been behaving pretty good so far.
Since I’ve only had a couple of lessons from my much braver brother Mike, I approach the idea of sailing with a healthy sense of cowardice. Forget racing. The truth is, I’m mostly a self-taught sailor, and when the boat heels way over with the wind, I’m more likely to be filled with the terror of tipping over, than the exhilaration of ripping through the waves.
 
Monday, June 29, 2009

Health care reform hell: one way out

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Healthcare reform hell: one way out
Robert Downes 6/29/09
Recently, a writer from Vogue magazine caused a stir on the Oprah Winfrey Show by noting that people in Minnesota looked like “little houses” during her visit to that plump and voluptuous state.
“I’d just been on a trip to Minnesota, where I can only kindly describe most of the people I saw as little houses,” Anna Wintour said. “There’s such an epidemic of obesity in the United States, and for some reason, everybody focuses on anorexia.”
Wintour is right: on the whole, we Americans don’t do a very good job of taking care of ourselves, and that’s the 900-lb. hog on the table of healthcare reform in our country that no one’s talking about.
Who is going to pay for our sins, and how?
Consider that 60 percent of Americans are overweight or obese. The federal Centers for Disease Control reports that obesity will soon be the number one killer in America. Overeating also contributes to diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and cancer.
 
Monday, June 22, 2009

U.P. Supermax desearves a look

Random Thoughts Robert Downes U.P. Supermax Deserves a Look
Robert Downes 6/22/09
Recently, U.S. Rep. Bart Stupak came up with an idea for pumping an extra
$1 billion or so into the economy of the Upper Peninsula. He was turned
down flat.
The idea? Turn one of the U.P.‘s prisons into a supermax facility and
transfer the detainees of Guantanamo there in exchange for a fat check
from Uncle Sam each year.
Stupak wrote a letter to President Obama in February, suggesting that the
30-acre Camp Manistique be converted to a high-security prison to house
the Gitmo prisoners.
 
Monday, June 15, 2009

Michigan still looking for a leader

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Michigan still looking for a leader
Robert Downes 6/15/09
Each spring in Michigan, you know that the season has finally turned when you see the first crocus flowers starting to bloom, often while there is still snow on the ground.
And so it is with state politics, where some of the hardier specimens of Michigan’s long, dark night are starting to blossom with the hope of being elected governor in 2010, after eight years of Gov. Jennifer Granholm.
Love her or hate her, you‘ve got to admit Gov. Granholm was dealt a dead man‘s hand when she became Michigan‘s first female governor in 2003. She inherited a $1.7 billion budget deficit from Gov. John Engler, and it’s been downhill ever since with the meltdown of the auto industry, the loss of 140,000 manufacturing jobs, and budget deficits of $1-$2 billion each year. One can only imagine that Gov. Granholm will be happy to say “Take this job and shove it” on her way out the door.
But who will replace her? And who is up to the task? Michigan now occupies ‘last place’ in the nation for job opportunities. Michigan is also the only state in the nation to have experienced negative economic growth for 10 years in a row.
So far, we have a collection of “Great Unknowns” at the gate -- and untested, to boot.
Some might even say uninspiring.
 
Monday, June 8, 2009

That Wang-Dang Doodle

Random Thoughts Robert Downes That Wang-Dang Doodle
Robert Downes 6/8/09


“Tell Automatic Slim, to tell razor-totin’ Jim, to tell butcher-knife totin’ Annie, to tell fast-talkin’ Fannie,
We gonna’ jump and ball, down at the union hall,
...We gonna’ wang-dang doodle, all
night long.”
-- Willie Dixon, Wang-Dang-Doodle

I saw “Queen of the Blues” Koko
Taylor about 10 years ago or more at the Turtle Creek Casino, with her band perched up in a corner window, playing behind a row of slot machines.
She could belt the blues to make your hair stand straight up, but even then, Koko looked like she had barely a shred of tread left on her tires. She appeared leathery inside and out, and possibly as old as the pyramids.
But you had to hand it to her, because Koko was still doing that “Wang-Dang Doodle,” her hit song from 1965, and reportedly she kept performing close to 50 concerts per year right up to the age of 80.
She died last week, one of the last of the Chicago blues musicians who still recalled the days of performing with Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Willie Dixon, and the kind of sidemen who used to blow harp through the borrowed microphones of Windy City cabs, or pack .45s in their guitar cases.
 
Monday, June 1, 2009

End of an era for the Red Wings

Random Thoughts George Foster End of an era for the Red Wings
George Foster 6/1/09
What do we have to do in order to get respect around here? The Detroit Red Wings have now played in 6 of the last 15 Stanley Cup Finals, a virtual dynasty in the modern era of hockey.
Yet, outside the good state of Michigan, the Red Wings are a decided underdog to the Pittsburgh Penguins in these Finals. Why? Because in a league dominated by celebrated players with matinee idol looks in their early 20’s, Detroit is old school, literally.
For starters, 36 year-old Chris Osgood has played goalie for what seems like an eternity. Ossie tended the nets in Detroit’s first Stanley Cup Final of this era when he was a lad in his early 20s. Supporting Osgood, at 39, Nicklas Lidstrom may still be the best defenseman in the league and captains the Wings.
Detroit’s regular lineup includes a host of grizzled veterans such Kris Draper, the team’s best face-off performer and a ripe 38 years old. Brian Rafalski at 35 is the Wing’s second best defenseman. Ten players 30 and older make up the core of Detroit’s best players – certainly the oldest squad in the league.
 
Monday, May 25, 2009

Let Him Be ... Not!

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Let Him Be... Not!
Robert Downes 5/25/09
Mark Staycer is getting the full-blown movie star treatment this week in Toronto, where the city is revved up over the premiere of his new film, Let Him Be.
Mark, who is Traverse City’s gift to the world for his ability to nail the music and mannerisms of the late John Lennon, is starring in the role of a recluse from northern Canada who just might be you-know-who.
In Let Him Be, two undergrad film students discover a musician named Noel Snow living in northern Ontario who’s a dead-ringer for a dead rock star, only older. Could it be?
That’s the coy part of the film because Staycer‘s character never claims to be John Lennon in Let Him Be. Nor are there any songs by The Beatles or Lennon included in the film. Staycer has also been instructed by the filmmakers to avoid discussing the co-leader of The Beatles, who was gunned down outside his New York City apartment building by a crazed fan on Dec. 8, 1980.
 
Monday, May 18, 2009

Tax revenues and marujuana

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Tax revenues & marijuana
Robert Downes 5/18/09
Legalizing marijuana to raise state tax revenues is one of those “In Case of Emergency, Break Glass“ sort of measures brought on by desperate times.
In California, they‘re thinking of breaking the glass on that taboo, and it makes you wonder: should Michigan break it too?
And should we get there first, before California captures a market worth billions?
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger says it‘s time to debate legalizing the evil weed in California, which has a $42 billion gap in its budget. A California lawmaker has also introduced a bill that would legalize and tax marijuana.
Why? Because pot is California’s biggest cash crop. Growers raise an estimated $14 billion of it each year, none of which is taxed. It’s estimated that California could raise $1.3 billion per year in tax revenues by simply legalizing its biggest crop.
 
Monday, May 11, 2009

Lost treasure found in Detroit

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Lost treasure found in Detroit
Robert Downes 5/11/09

“Don’t forget the Motor City -- All you need is music, sweet music, there’ll be music everywhere...”
- Dancing in the Streets

Recently, National Public Radio aired a program wondering why it is that Detroit has created some of the best music in the world, and yet has failed miserably in marketing itself as a capital of creativity.
Good point: While Detroit and Michigan have obsessed for years over what to do about the auto meltdown, we’ve ignored the potential of our other top export: music.
Consider this partial list: Bob Seger, Kid Rock, Jack White, Madonna, Iggy Pop, Ted Nugent, Eminem and all the stars of Motown: Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, The Temptations, The Supremes, Marvin Gaye, Four Tops... Then there was Detroit’s electronic music scene in the ‘90s, which was better known worldwide than it was in most of Michigan.
To paraphrase an old Talking Heads hit, this ain’t no Arkansas, this ain’t no Wisconsin, this ain’t no fooling around: few states (or countries for that matter) can boast anywhere near the amount of musical talent that has come out of Michigan.
 
Monday, May 4, 2009

Seeking a new direction

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Seeking a new direction
Robert Downes 5/4/09


Rick Snyder, the surprise Republican candidate for governor in 2010, strikes you as the kind of guy who could save the Grumpy Old Party from going down the path to extinction.
With an open expression, a youthful demeanor and an emphatic way of listening, Snyder thinks of himself as a “green” Republican, interested in preserving the environment and promoting alternative energy as avenues for solving Michigan’s job crisis. An Ann Arbor venture capitalist with the firm Ardesta, he served as the interim CEO of Gateway Computers a few years back, offering credence that he may be the sort of person with big ideas and business savvy to turn our state around.
Snyder stopped by the
Express offices last week as part of his statewide listening tour. “I’ve been visiting communities across the state to hear what people have to say about jobs and Michigan’s direction,” he said.
Much of what he’s heard has been pretty gloomy, especially coming direct to Traverse City from the Upper Peninsula, where unemployment is above 20 percent, with not much hope on the horizon.
So we were quick to point out that life seems to be much brighter here in the ‘magic bubble’ of northwestern Michigan, where various windpower projects are starting to take root, along with our robust tourism and agricultural industries. We pointed out that the Grand Traverse Commons renovation project in Traverse City is going like gangbusters and that our region is percolating with ideas for festivals, downtown destinations and new manufacturing schemes.
 
 
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