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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Thursday, November 3, 2005


Books Robert Downes Author of Aaron’s Crossing looks to broader horizon
It’s been a thrilling year for author Linda Alice Dewey, whose first book, “Aaron’s Crossing,” has received a blizzard of publicity from Michigan’s press since she penned the 232-page manuscript a year ago about her encounter with a ghost in an old cemetary near Glen Arbor.
Much of that is due to Dewey’s considerable hustle: sending out waves of press kits and review copies, establishing a an elaborate website, and generating stories and reviews in more than a dozen newspapers and magazines, including the Detroit Free Press.
But a savvy P.R. campaign alone doesn’t move books, and it’s obvious from the ascendency of “Aaron’s Crossing” as a regional bestseller that Dewey has struck a nerve with local readers.  She’s sold out her first run of 3,000 books, primarily through test marketing the novel/memoir in northwestern lower Michigan, and now she’s heading for broader horizons.   Currently, she’s preparing for a downstate tour of Ann Arbor, Gross Pointe and Kalamazoo, followed by a national push this January through California, Arizona and onward.
Somewhere down the road, she hopes for an international bestseller, possibly a musical and a film, and definitely a follow-up book.  
Thursday, August 4, 2005

Terry Gamble‘s Good Family Revisits Northern Michigan

Books Robert Downes Terry Gamble’s first book, The Water Dancer, earned critical acclaim for its depiction of conflicts over race, culture and class among the residents of a wealthy resort on the north shore of Lake Michigan.
The resort was based on the Gamble family’s own summer cottage at Harbor Point north of Harbor Springs. She is among the fifth generation of her family to have summered locally as a privileged member of “one of America’s great industrial clans.”
Gamble writes from a perspective most of us will never know. For one thing, she is a descendant of Proctor & Gable co-founder James Gamble. And, as one reviewer notes, in her world, “cottage is a code word for 10 bedrooms and a servants’ wing -- owned by big-money types who could afford to take summers off.”
Thursday, July 7, 2005

Astrologer‘s Antidote

Books Robert Downes A
re you a wee bit paranoid about the state of the world? Cynical about the motivations of your fellow man? Do you fear that people are basically small-minded, violence-prone savages and that civilization is on the slide over an abyss of environmental and social destruction?
Relax, Rob Brezsny, the weekly columnist of Free Will Astrology, is prepared to put your mind at ease with his new book, “Pronoia is the Antidote for Paranoia.” In fact, he claims that “the whole world is conspiring to shower you with blessings,” and has 296 pages to prove it.
Thursday, May 26, 2005

Don‘t Panic... The drama of James Kunstler‘s ‘Long Emergency‘ ignores details

Books Oran Kelley The excerpt from novelist James Kunstler’s new book, “The Long Emergency” (Express 4/14), is certainly interesting. But unlike letter writer Ann Rogers, I think we ought to hesitate a moment before we plan our whole lives around Mr. Kunstler’s predictions.
If you missed Kunstler’s piece, he claims that petroleum production has already peaked, that supplies will be well short of demand quite soon, and that the suburban middle class economy that has been built around cheap oil is going to collapse, along with civilization as we know it.
Thursday, May 12, 2005

Northcountry Books

Books Robert Downes Books
By Robert Downes

Colorful characters drive the plot of fictional Weneshkeen

“The Lake, the River & the Other Lake”
By Steve Amick
Pantheon Books

If you’ve ever longed for a Northern Michigan version of Garrison Keillor’s Lake Woebegone, then delve into the riddles of “The Lake, the River & the Other Lake” by Steve Amick.
Amick has created a town called Weneshkeen on the shores of Lake Michigan, weaving several stories together in a plot whose characters become close-knit by book’s end. He even drew a map of the town on the book’s cover, which should add to its intrigue factor at local bookstores.
Thursday, March 31, 2005

Story Test

Books Bob Part 1
Thursday, December 23, 2004

Husband-wife Team are no Strangers to the Woods

Books Author and wildlife photographer Carl Sams grew up on an island near the mouth of the Au Sable River in Northern Michigan and spent much of his time playing sports, hunting and fishing. Carl’s wife, Jean Stoick, was raised on a farm in Michigan’s thumb near Vassar. Both have a passion for wildlife and dedicate their books and movies to “those who protect wildlife and wild places.”
Last week, the Milford-based couple were in Northern Michigan promoting their 1999 children’s best-seller, “Stranger in the Woods,” along with their new book, “Lost in the Woods.” Both are lushly photographed visions of Northern Michigan’s wildlife adorned with simple tales of life in
the wild.
Thursday, November 4, 2004

The Book Club Revolution: Victoria Champagne Sutherland Turns a Page with TC Reads

Books Robert Downes Books are glorious vehicles, capable of transporting the reader to faraway lands, distant times and into the souls of other lives. To share that adventure, Victoria Champagne Sutherland launched the TC Reads program two years ago, bringing the light of literature to many new readers in the area. It’s an idea that dovetails nicely with the surge of interest in book clubs -- primarily enjoyed by women readers -- that is sweeping the nation.
An ardent proponent of reading, Victoria is the publisher of ForeWord magazine, a high quality trade journal which circulates reviews of independently published books to the movers & shakers of the bookworld. In ForeWord, a librarian or bookstore owner can read a review of, say, “The Pirate Queen” a book about legendary women of the sea, and decide whether to add it to her shelves. The magazine got started in 1998 when Sutherland left the Jenkins Group book distribution firm to team up with writers Anne Stanton and Mardi Link. “When we started, there were 50,000 books being published each year, and now there are 175,000,” Sutherland recalls.
Thursday, October 21, 2004

Dylan‘s Back Pages: Chronicles Recall the Odyssey of a Young Folksinger on the Rise

Books Robert Downes There’s an old story about a talking dog in a bar. No one remembers what the dog has to say -- what’s amazing is that a dog is talking at all.
Such is the case with Bob Dylan’s new autobiography, “Chronicles,” the first in a three-volume series that was released in early October. The marvel unveiled in the book is that for the past 44 years of his stellar career, Bob Dylan has been notoriously silent, obscure or cryptic at best on the meaning of his songs and just how he came to be arguably the greatest American songwriter of all time.
Thursday, October 14, 2004

The Glamour, Glory and Guardedness of Grant

Books Nancy Sundstrom Just in time for harvest season comes a bumper crop of books by and about celebrities of all sorts, from Hollywood royalty to those a little further down the feeding chain, such as Paris Hilton, Sean Astin and Tom Green.
Arguably, one can expect more from a biography spanning the four-decade career of Cary Grant than one can from Jenna Jameson’s “How to Make Love Like a Porn Star,” but one can assume caveat empteur here. It’s all a matter of taste, isn’t it? And let’s face it, don’t some of these tomes, such as the latter-mentioned above, at least intrigue a reader to pick it up in the bookstore and scan the back cover and the photos, even while hiding inside an open copy of Philip Roth’s latest?
Thursday, September 30, 2004

History Lesson: The Folly of Empire

Books Nancy Sundstrom As Election Day looms closer, there is no slowing of the steady stream of new books dedicated to a wide range of facets, perspectives and tales about the two candidates heading for what many believe will be one of the closest races in some time.
One of the latest of these tomes is a thoughtful, interesting and well-researched, though quite academic-minded, work by John Judis entitled “The Folly of Empire: What George W. Bush Could Learn from Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson.”
Thursday, September 16, 2004

The Agony and the Ecstasy of Being Committed

Books Nancy Sundstrom Summer is officially over, but that doesn’t seem tohave slowed down some solid offerings in the beach read department. In fact, one of the best of the season just rolled out in the form of Anna Maxted’s fourth novel, Being Committed.

This is the best effort yet from the English, bestselling Maxted (Getting Over It, Behaving Like Adults, Running in Heels), who has endeared readers and critics alike with her own unique blend of heartache, hope and hope, particularly as it applies to romance. Maxted has a true gift for creating endearing characters and flushing out optimism and warmth from dismal situations. These gifts as a writer have aided not only in raising her to the forefront of chick lit authors, but elevating regard and standards for the genre itself.
Thursday, September 9, 2004

Is 15 Minutes of Fame too Much or too Little?

Books Nancy Sundstrom Four years ago, Salon columnist and playwright Cintra Wilson wrote a book that had a title so provocative that I, along with many others, couldn’t help but pick it up and dive right in: “A Massive Swelling: Celebrity Reexamined as a Grotesque and Crippling Disease.”
Every edgy, insightful and slightly vicious moment in her non-fiction diatribe on pop culture (with observations and predictions on the likes of Michael Jackson proving to be nearly Nostradamean) made the book worth every penny and paved the way for more to look forward to in terms of why we, as individuals and a society, are pop culture junkies whom 15 minutes of fame is - well - either too much or too little, depending on your perspective. At the altar of this line of thinking, I just throw in the names of William Hung, Paris Hilton and Joey Buttafucco as a case in point.
Thursday, August 26, 2004

Pure Joy in the Form of Corduroy

Books Nancy Sundstrom “How many people do you have to kill before you no longer qualify as pro-life?” read a homemade sign carried by one young man.
“Stop depleting my dating pool,” read another carried by a young woman who wanted to draw attention to the U.S. military’s death toll in Iraq -- now approaching 950.
Traverse City has always been known as a Republican stronghold, but last Monday -- in what local historian Larry Wakefield termed the largest demonstration in the city’s history -- over 1,000 people gathered to protest a campaign appearance by George W. Bush.
Captain Morgan of the Traverse City Police Department estimated the crowd of demonstrators at between 1,000 and 1,500.
For hours before Bush was scheduled to speak, those with tickets to the rally (organizers say 14,000 tickets were handed out) filed into the Civic Center along a sidewalk flanked by a crowd carrying signs and energetically speaking out about the war, job loss, environmental degradation, reproductive freedom and other civil rights issues.
Thursday, August 19, 2004

Secret Studies -- The Hazards of Reading Lolita in Tehran

Books Nancy Sundstrom Recently released in paperback is a book that deserved more attention than it earned when it was released in hardcover late last year. The tome has the provocative title of “Reading Lolita in Tehran,” and it has been rightfully hailed by other critics as a powerful and moving merge of memoir, political commentary and literary criticism. Though it is hardly a beach read, the fact that it is now available in paperback might help bring this insightful and provocative book the audience it should have had from the onset.