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, October 17, 2002

The Curse of Conflict Diamonds: A Lust for Gems Ignites War in Africa and Fuels the Dreams of Osama bin Laden

Books Robert Downes Greg Campbell‘s book, “Blood Diamonds,“ opens with a horrific image from West Africa‘s heart of darkness:
“Ismael Dalramy lost his hands in 1996 with two quick blows of an ax. He didn‘t -- or couldn‘t -- recall the pain of the blows. But he remembered being ordered at gunpoint to place his wrists on a wooden stump dripping with the blood of his neighbors who were writhing on the ground around him trying to stem the flow of blood from their arms or staggering away.“
Thursday, October 10, 2002

King‘s X: The Master of Horror Bows out with From a Buick 8

Books Nancy Sundstrom Each new book from Stephen King tends to become something of an event, especially for his considerable legion of fans. His latest, “From a Buick 8“ seems to be generating even more buzz the usual, much of it centered around the fact that King has announced that this will be his swan song - the last novel he will ever write.
While the prolific horror meister himself says this decision is irrevocable, most of the rest of the world remains skeptical, including peers like Peter Straub, a favorite King collaborator. “It might well be his last book,“ he stated recently, “until the end of the year.“ Still, others close to King suggest that we take his pronouncement seriously.
Thursday, September 26, 2002

Blessings Explores the Workings of Faith

Books Nancy Sundstrom As an avid reader, it has been a pleasure to follow the evolution of Anna Quindlen’s writing career. She’s become successively more graceful, sharp-witted, and confident with each new effort in her versatile oeuvre, and many have come to look forward to seeing what she does next.
As expected, her hot-off-the-presses “Blessings“ is now shooting to the top of the bestseller lists.
It follows the novels “Object Lessons,“ “One True Thing“ and “Black and Blue“; the nonfiction books “A Short Guide to a Happy Life,“ “Living Out Loud,“ “Thinking Out Loud,“ and “How Reading Changed My Life“; and two children’s books, “The Tree That Came to Stay“ and “Happily Ever After.“ Her New York Times column “Public & Private“ won the Pulitzer Prize in 1992, and she now appears every other week in Newsweek.
Thursday, September 19, 2002

The Lovely Bones Offers a Fatal Remembrance

Books Nancy Sundstrom It’s one of those stories whose topicality is a hot button because it feels coaxed out of, or a jarring reflection of the disturbingly more frequent headlines in today’s papers about the abduction of young women.
Alice Sebold, who authored the memoir “Lucky,“ has crafted a remarkable and haunting debut novel in “The Lovely Bones,“ an artistic high-wire act that succeeds triumphantly, in spite of the considerable risks it takes.
This is a coming-of-age tale, but with none of the trademarks one might anticipate. For starters, it is about the murder of a 14-year-old girl named Susie, and as we meet her, her death and transition into heaven have already taken place. From above, in a place where “life is a perpetual yesterday,“ Susie narrates the story of her life and demise, and keeps watch over her grieving family friends, as well as the ruthless serial killer and the world weary detective trying to solve the case.
Thursday, September 12, 2002

Among the Heroes Recounts a Fight in the Sky on 9/11

Books Nancy Sundstrom For most Americans, the horrific, unbelievable events of September 11, 3001 are simply unthinkable, unimaginable. Most of us were not there. How could we possibly comprehend the heartbreak, horror, and heinousness of what took place at the World Center in New York City, the Pentagon in Washington, and a field outside Shanksville, Pennsylvania on that day, one that will forever be unlike any other?
Thursday, September 5, 2002

Bittersweet Bitter End Takes a Trip through the Early ‘60s

Books Nancy Sundstrom As we close in on the first anniversary of the terrorists attacks on our country on September 11, it brings to mind that in the not too distant past, there was another horrific event that galvanized our nation, changing it forever.
That, of course, was the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy, an event of such monumental proportions that many Americans still recall, with crystalline clarity, what they were doing and where they were when they heard the shocking news. And just like 9-11, the impact will be felt for generations to come, marking the end of an era of security and comfort.
Thursday, August 29, 2002

Home Grown Authors - Part II

Books Nancy Sundstrom In the last installment of Express, we showcased four fine new works of non-fiction by Michigan authors. Here, we give equal time to some specialists in the fiction genre, each of whom has a growing following of fans that should increase with these latest works in their oeuvre.

More Than Enough by John Fulton
I’m still hungover from the intoxifying effects of “The Corrections“ by Jonathan Franzen, so I was just a little squeamish about settling into another tome bout a dysfunctional family at various degrees of breaking point, but I had thoroughly enjoyed Fulton’s first work, a short story collection entitled “Retribution,“ and was rather curious to see how he fared tackling the subject.
Thursday, August 15, 2002

Homegrown Authors - Part I: Four Works of Michigan Non-fiction

Books Nancy Sundstrom A bumper crop of interesting new books from Michigan writers has just hit book stores and library shelves, so as we do regularly in Express, we’d like to showcase them in a two-part installment beginning with this issue.
The first four to be featured are works of non-fiction, one of which is autobiographical. The other three have several common bonds, the primary one being that they focus on some unique charms of life in Northern Michigan. Next week, we’ll introduce you to four quite diverse fictional works from writers John Fulton, Christopher Knight, Constance Cappel, and Express’s own Harley Sachs.
Thursday, August 1, 2002

Dream Brother: The Lives and Music of Jeff and Tim Buckley Tops a List of Folk Lore

Books Nancy Sundstrom “My grandfather had a beautiful voice. Irish tenor. Beautiful. Too much of a military hardass to deal with his own and his son‘s talents. I wish it were otherwise. I love you, you poor b-------.... With a father like this man, it is no wonder that Tim Buckley was afraid to come back to me. So afraid to be my father. Because his only paradigm for fatherhood was a deranged lunatic with a steel plate in his head.... I know that he must have been scared s------- to think he might possibly become like his father. Scared s------- of treating me the way his father treated him and his family. Can you imagine the heartbreak? The useless, s----- torture day in, day out?“

-- Jeff Buckley, Journal Entry, August 9, 1995

A recent rediscovery of Tim Buckley’s blisteringly erotic 1972 album, “Greetings From L.A.“ reminded me that I was long overdue to read David Browne’s acclaimed biography from earlier this year of Buckley and his son, Jeff, whose 1997 death by drowning eerily mirrored Tim’s own demise of a drug overdose in 1975.
Thursday, July 25, 2002

The Emperor of Ocean Park Probes Affluent Black America

Books Nancy Sundstrom Stephen Carter’s “The Emperor of Ocean Park“ is one book you won’t want to miss this summer. Smart, engrossing, tense, and loaded with provocative ideas on a range of subjects from justice to father-son relationships, it’s the sort of work that’s both satisfying and challenging.
“Emperor“ is the fictional debut of Carter, a Yale law professor and distinguished conservative African-American intellectual who has authored seven acclaimed nonfiction books, including “The Culture of Disbelief“ and “Civility.“
Thursday, July 11, 2002

A Cherry Home Companion

Books Nancy Sundstrom Patty LaNoue Stearns loves food and writing about it, and after tackling her latest creative project, it’s safe to say that she also loves cherries.
Longtime food critic and writer Stearns has a hot-off-the-presses book out in time for the 76th Annual National Cherry Festival entitled “Cherry Home Companion.“ With 130 tested cherry recipes - many from renowned chefs like Pete Peterson of Tapawingo fame and Keith Famie, a celebrity chef who has his own show on the Food Network who was also a “Survivor“ contestant - along with vintage cherry festival posters and postcards, cherry poems, songs and trivia, it is a unique, and even high-end guide to the wonderful world of cherries.
Thursday, July 4, 2002

The Scar Offers a Pirate Kingdom and State-of-the-art Sci-fi

Books Nancy Sundstrom Though I’m open to books of (nearly) any genre out there, truth be told, I’m a reluctant reader of science fiction.
It’s not that I haven’t appreciated the works of Clarke, Dick, Azimov, and even early predecessors like Wells, Verne, and Orwell, I tend to be a bit overwhelmed by the hyper-real worlds they present. I dote on reality-based fiction, and perhaps that’s my problem - when what’s outside your front door is already terrifically beautiful, going one step into the altered states of beyond can feel like - and I quote songwriter Greg Brown - one cool remove.
But I was intrigued when someone insisted I read “The Scar,“ the third book in a well-respected trilogy by an English author with the unlikely moniker of China Miééééville. I was sufficiently challenged when told that “this isn’t your father’s science fiction,“ even as I winced, thinking that the parental unit’s and my version of that genre probably weren’t so far apart anymore.
Thursday, June 27, 2002

The Nanny Diaries Offers an Underdog‘s Glimpse of Park Avenue

Books Nancy Sundstrom “Wanted: One young woman to take care of four-year-old boy. Must be cheerful, enthusiastic and selfless-bordering on masochistic Must relish sixteen-hour shifts with a deliberately nap-deprived pre-schooler. Must love getting thrown up on, literally and figuratively, by everyone in his family Must enjoy the delicious anticipation of ridiculously erratic pay. Mostly, must love being treated like fungus found growing out of employer‘s Hermes bag. Those who take it personally need not apply.“

Who wouldn‘t want that job, you might ask, the above being from the jacket of “The Nanny Diaries,“ a glitzy train wreck of a novel that defies you constantly to put it down.
It holds many points of fascination, with its detailed, insider’s look into the Park Avenue apartments where women wouldn’t be seen without being draped in Prada, children attend Mommy and Me groups with their sitters and peers named Brandford and Darwin, and fathers, when they deign to make their presences known at all, are stunningly oblivious to the needs of their families.
Thursday, June 13, 2002

Great Beach Reads -- Part I

Books Nancy Sundstrom This avid reader loves to plan summer “beach reads“ the way oddsmakers handicap sports events, and as I plan ahead for this year’s picks, it looks like a clear case of so many books, so little time.
Beaches, a venue of escape themselves, provide a singularly unique backdrop for escapist reading, which is no doubt why many opt for that locale to enjoy thrillers, steamy romances, and other fare that transport us to other worlds, the way the best books do. In the hotter months, when we do take the time to soak up sun and bask a bit, be it in the hammock in the back yard, or with a cold one near the water somewhere, it’s perfectly acceptable - and even encouraged - to indulge yourself in a “beach read.“
How you define that is your choice, but here’s a few new releases that I plan to lose myself in over the next few months.
Thursday, June 6, 2002

Lemony Snicket: The Unauthorized Autobiography

Books Nancy Sundstrom If you are interested in stories with happy endings, you would be better off reading some other book. In this book, not only is there no happy ending, there is no happy beginning and very few happy things in the middle. --‘‘Book the First: The Bad Beginning‘‘

Move over, Harry Potter, and get ready for Lemony Snicket to kick some serious booty.
The first and most logical question is, of course, who is Lemony Snicket? Some say that he’s the alter ego of writer Daniel Handler, but he says otherwise, leading millions of readers of the best-selling “A Series of Unfortunate Events“ to become even more intrigued about the identity of its humorous, cynical, and seriously elusive author.
What’s even more compelling, if not frightening, is the notion that together, the collective “we“ make up Lemony Snicket, but who cares? Parents and kids are fighting over who will get their hands on the next installment first, and anytime that happens is cause for celebration, says I.