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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Monday, May 19, 2008

Visions of Mackinac

Books Robert Downes If there’s one book you simply must have on your coffee table this summer, it’s “A Picturesque Situation: Mackinac Before Photography 1615-1860” by Brian Leigh Dunnigan.
The book is a treasure trove of the days when the Straits area served as North America’s ‘wild northwest,’ lifting the reader’s soul with visions of our colorful, rough-and-tumble past. Filled with 330 paintings, drawings, maps and documents, “A Picturesque Situation” tells the story of the Straits area at a time when it was the western terminus to the resources of North America.
Monday, April 21, 2008

The Bush Tragedy

Books Robert Downes The Bush Tragedy
By Jacob Weisberg
Random House
269 pages, $26

With the presidency of George W. Bush wrapping up as an historic disaster, authors are lining up to dissect how the president managed to pull so many blunders, including the war in Iraq, the wreck of America’s reputation around the world, and the disaster of New Orleans, to name a few.
Author Jacob Weisberg offers insights in “The Bush Tragedy,” a biography that explores the psychological issues that influenced George W. Bush. The book also examines the motives of Bush’s misguided advisors, Karl Rove and Dick Cheney, who led the inexperienced president into a series of poor decisions.
Weisberg compares Bush to Shakespeare’s Prince Hal, a ne’r-do-well youth who became the warlike and religious King Henry V of England. Like Prince Hal in Shakespeare’s plays “Henry IV” and “Henry V,” George W. stands in the shadow of a famous father: he’s desperate to live up to his father’s legend, and also to outdo his father to make his own mark as a man.
The editor of Slate.com, and a former writer for The New Republic, Weisberg notes that both George W. Bush and Prince Hal also play out roles drawn from even older stories: that of the prodigal son in the Bible and the father-destroying legend of Oedipus.
Monday, March 10, 2008

Strike Dog

Books Glen Young Author Joe Heywood genuinely likes conservation officer Grady Service.
Heywood, a retired pharmaceutical executive, believes Service, the curmudgeonly Upper Peninsula “woods cop,” has a big heart, a sharp mind, and a knack for finding the bad guys.
Service is the fictional creation of Heywood, and the two have returned for a fifth installment of the “Woods Cop” mystery series published by The Lyons Press.
Heywood has pressed Service back into active duty in “Strike Dog,” the latest adventure in the series that began in 2001 with “Ice Hunter.”
A 1961 graduate of Rudyard High School, Heywood now lives in Portage, near Kalamazoo. But every year he returns to the U.P., riding alongside conservation officers and scouting new locations and new ideas. More than anything, however, Heywood finds a greater appreciation for the real-life woods cops.
Monday, March 3, 2008

Skinny Bitch

Books Robert Downes It was just an obscure diet book on the shelves a little over a year ago, but today, Skinny Bitch and its sister publication Skinny Bitch in the Kitch
are two of the fattest books on the bestseller charts.
Specifically, Skinny Bitch has spent the past 30 weeks at the top of the New York Times Paperback Advice Bestseller List, with Skinny Bitch in the Kitch weighing in at number four, along with nine weeks on the list.
Both books offer “vegan diet advice from the world of modeling.” Author Rory Freedman is a former agent for Ford Models and a “self-taught know-it-all,” while Kim Barnouin is a former model who holds an MS degree in holistic nutrition.
Monday, February 18, 2008

Black Hole

Books Robert Downes If you’ve never read a graphic novel before, then “Black Hole” by Charles Burns is a wake-up call as to how disturbing and provocative these steroid-packed comic books can be.
Hailed as the masterwork of a comics superstar, “Black Hole” is a frightening trip into a nightmare of teenage anxieties, rendered with drawings that recall the darkness of both Rembrandt and Dracula.
The story involves a bizarre plague that infects a group of teenagers in the Seattle area during the 1970s -- a time when “it wasn’t exactly cool to be a hippie any more, but David Bowie was still just a little too weird.”
Monday, February 11, 2008

Why Mars & Venus collide

Books Robert Downes Is your relationship cosmically stressed out? Is a meteor shower of
hassles and time-pressure tearing up your world of love and commitment?
Is your rocket to romance stalled on the launching pad because you can’t
choose between Mars and Venus as a destination?
If so, you may wish to consult “Why Mars & Venus Collide,” the latest
self-help book for relationships by space explorer and love coach John
Thursday, December 20, 2007

Local Pageturners

Books Rick Coates It’s that time again - time for last minute gift buying. If you are in that market, consider buying something made local, such as wine, works of art, functional handcrafted art (pottery, clothing, leather goods) or value added agricultural products from local family owned farms. Another great idea is books, and certainly going to the New York Times’ Best Seller list assures giving a book that has attained at least some national status; but why not consider giving a book from a Northern Michigan author? Even consider giving yourself a book - after all, you deserve a gift.
Northern Michigan has long been a haven for writers and authors. Certainly most notable is Hemingway, whose early writings were shaped and inspired by his time spent in the Petoskey and Walloon Lake areas as well as the Upper Peninsula. Then there is Jim Harrison (happy birthday to Jim, who last week joined his good friend Jack Nicholson in reaching the 70-year-olds club), who spent most of his adult writing life living on the Leelanau Peninsula. Harrison has a new book out as well (from last winter), titled Returning To Earth.
Thursday, October 25, 2007

Night Work

Books Glen Young Way out East, in Cottekill, New York, author Steve Hamilton is likely sitting down, even tonight, to begin his new novel.
Hamilton, a Michigan native who has called New York’s Catskills Mountain region home since his 1983 graduation from U of M, is well known to Michigan mystery fans. Since the early success of 1998’s “A Cold Day in Paradise,” Hamilton has penned six other novels starring retired Detroit policeman Alex McKnight. But his most recent success finds Hamilton leaving McKnight and Paradise behind for his adopted home of New York.
“Night Work” marks a breakout for Hamilton; a first commercial departure from his tried and tested fictional series. This time, instead of the slushy confines of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula in winter, Hamilton’s story takes place in the Hudson River valley region of New York, near his own home. It’s a murder mystery in which the main character struggles both to exonerate himself and catch the killer.
Thursday, July 5, 2007

A Thousand Bones

Books Rick Coates Northern Michigan has served as the backdrop and inspiration to many a writer and author. Most notable on the list are Ernest Hemingway and Jim Harrison. Add to that list New York Times bestselling author P.J. Parrish.
Parrish is the author of the critically-acclaimed and commercially successful Louis Kincaid mystery novel series, which uses the the Leelanau Peninsula as the setting to launch a new crime novel series featuring Joe Frye, a female police officer and Kincaid’s lover. The new novel, “A Thousand Bones,” was released last week and Parrish is touring through Northern Michigan doing a series of book signings.
Thursday, June 21, 2007

Killing Che

Books Robert Downes Walk into any tourist t-shirt shop on the planet and you’re likely to find the brooding image of Che Guevera in his star-topped black beret, ready to enlist the wanna-be revolutionaries of the world into what is now little more than a fashion statement.
But in his day, Che Guevera was a young man who shook the world as one of a handful of guerillas who waged a successful revolution in Cuba with Fidel Castro. He was a 34-year-old idealist who dreamed of exporting the same revolutionary tactics to South America when he was gunned down by the Bolivian army working with the Central Intelligence Agency in 1967.
But who was Che? The fun-loving young doctor of “The Motorcycle Diaries,” or the communist icon who talked a good game of freedom, but was just as willing to crush Cuba’s free press after the revolution?
Author Chuck Pfarrer offers some answers in his first novel, “Killing Che,” which is based on the revolutionary’s own field diaries. That, and Pfarrer’s own background as a former Navy SEAL, which provides some behind-the-scenes insight into how the CIA’s covert campaign against Che may have gone down.
Thursday, June 7, 2007

Tom Wright‘s Roadwork

Books Rick Coates Editors Note: Rick Coates detailed Tom Wright’s biography in a two-part article that appears in the archive section of northernexpress.com beginning with the August 28, 2003 issue. Tom Wright moved to Northern Michigan in 2000 to collect his thoughts and organize his photo archives. Coates also served as project facilitator for Tom Wright’s “Knew and Used Photography,” the international debut of Wright’s photographic collection, in November of 2003. The exhibition (one of the most successful in the history of the Dennos Museum) attracted thousands, including several rock stars (Rod Stewart, Uncle Kracker, Bob Seger and Ian McLagan), to Traverse City. Coates also edited the “Exhibition” catalogue that featured several of Wright’s best photos. For additional information on Tom Wright,visit tomwrightphotography.com.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

On the road with an Irish Pirate/Ramor Ryan

Books Holly Wren Spaulding In anticipation of his appearance in Traverse City next week, Irish author Ramor Ryan took time out to talk about his new book, Clandestines: The Pirate Journals of an Irish Exile, life in a conflict zone, and his political coming of age during the embattled Ireland of the 1980s.

NE: I understand you’ve read in Ireland, England, Germany, Mexico, New York, San Francisco — we’re lucky to make it onto your tour.
Ramor Ryan: I have to say that I have wanted to visit Traverse City for many years, as I have very special connections with the community there!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Love Blooms Anew/Liesel Lizenburger

Books Glen Young Writer Liesel Litzenburger is enjoying a success little witnessed in her business.
Litzenburger, a newly-40 blonde who grew up in Harbor Springs and now calls the Grand Rapids area home, can credit some of her good fortune to nine-year-old Annie Child.
Annie, the diminutive heroine of Litzenburger’s new collection of linked stories Now You Love Me, has been rediscovered. First published in 2001 by Carnegie Mellon University Press, Now You Love Me has become not only Litzenburger’s first book but also her second, thanks to its recent re-publication by new publisher Shaye Areheart.
Thursday, April 12, 2007

Book Roundup

Books Robert Downes Self-publishing has become a cottage industry in Northern Michigan with a slew of do-it-yourself authors making their mark on the literary world.
Here’s an update on who’s doing what on the shelves of local bookstores, borrowing freely from the authors’ press releases:

Murder in the Keweenaw
By Harley Sachs

Thursday, March 15, 2007

When Things Fall Apart

Books Anne Stanton I was at an Interlochen Pathfinder School ice skating party recently when my eye caught the name of a book left on a folding chair: When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chodron, a Buddhist nun.
As it turns out the book belonged to a woman who formed a “Chodron” book study group with two other women. One of the moms at the skating party asked if
she could join the group. I was tempted to ask, too.