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, September 13, 2010

Losing our religion

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Losing our Religion
Maybe it’s just a wild coincidence, but most of the Muslim people I’ve
ever met have been remarkably gentle and considerate.
Not a terrorist among them.
There was Darla, a college friend of Arabic descent from Dearborn who
aspired to a career in journalism. A mysterious beauty with a sense of
dignity and style, I can’t imagine she ever thought of a side career
in bomb-making.
Monday, August 30, 2010

The Gunslingers

Random Thoughts Robert Downes The Gunslingers
You have to wonder if Second Amendment activists are going to shoot themselves in the foot in Royal Oak this weekend, because they’ve finally succeeded in pissing off even the Republican establishment, along with the business community and the average American family.
An organization called Michigan Open Carry, Inc. is encouraging gun owners to carry their holstered pistols to a family festival called Arts, Beats and Eats in downtown Royal Oak on Labor Day weekend. The festival hopes to draw 25,000 people or more.
Monday, August 23, 2010

The pie in the face

Random Thoughts Robert Downes The Pie in the Face
Give her credit, Ahlam Mohsen, 22, has got some guts, if not a lot of sense.
The anti-war activist and Michigan State University student from
Coldwater smacked U.S. Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) in the face with a
Dutch apple pie last week. Now, she faces a felony charge of stalking,
along with misdemeanors for assault and disorderly conduct.
Monday, August 16, 2010

The 100 Thing Challenge

Random Thoughts Robert Downes The 100 Thing Challenge
If you’re into the ‘less is more’ lifestyle built on simplifying your life, you’ve probably heard of the “100 Thing Challenge.”
If not, then now’s your chance to have one heck of a garage sale this weekend.
The idea is to get rid of all of your possessions except for the 100 things you can’t live without for an extended period of time -- from 100 days to a year.
Blogger Dave Bruno (www.guynameddave.com) came up with the idea and has charted his progress (perhaps “regress” is a better word) online and in a soon-to-be-published book. He’s been feted in Time magazine as far back as 2008 and apparently has plenty of disciples who are busy ditching the clutter in their lives.
Monday, August 9, 2010

College & the middle class

Random Thoughts Robert Downes College & the Middle Class
Several years ago, I hurt a reader’s feelings by reporting on the
amount of income it takes to be considered “middle class” in America
these days.
I can’t remember the amount now -- it was probably some arbitrary
figure cooked up by an economics professor.
But I do remember the crushed look on her face as she said, “If that’s
how much money you need to earn, then I’m no longer in the middle
Monday, August 9, 2010

Tour de Tart

Features Robert Downes Tour de TART: Wheels spin for bike trail fundraiser
Pedaling for a good cause is what the Tour de TART is all about, with at least 500 cyclists expected to turn out this week to ride the trail between Traverse City and Suttons Bay.
“We’re celebrating the 10th year of the Tour this year and we’re really hoping that we’ll have 600 riders turn out,” says Pam Darling, outreach coordinator for TART Trails, Inc.
The Tour will be held this Friday, Aug. 13, with cyclists starting between 4-6:30 p.m. in the parking lot at Brick Wheels and McLain Cycle on 8th Street in TC. Riders will proceed along the West Bay bike path, hooking up with the Leelanau Trail to pedal a total of 19 miles to Suttons Bay.
Friday, August 6, 2010

Mt. Holiday gets a musical makeover

Music Robert Downes Mt. Holiday gets a musical makeover
Music-lovers who check out the “new” weekly concert scene at Mt. Holiday Ski Resort in Acme may be surprised to learn that it has it actually has a fairly old and distinguished background.
In fact, folk superstar Joni Mitchell and her then-husband Chuck performed in the lounge atop Mt. Holiday way back in May of 1966 when she was an unknown singer-songwriter trying to make it in Detroit.
“I can remember her standing on the fireplace at that show when this was a coffeehouse called the Bucktooth Clam,” says Sandy Blumenfeld, who has seen many shows and performers come and go at Mt. Holiday through the years. “She didn’t have anything going on nationally at that time -- it was just before Joannie Collins and Tom Rush recorded her songs and she became a star.”
Friday, August 6, 2010

The age of what to do

Random Thoughts Robert Downes The Age of What to Do?
There was a wonderfully scary article in the business section of the
New York Times last month, in which a financial analyst predicted that
we’re in for the biggest stock market crash in 300 years.
Market forecaster Robert Prechter bases his warning on the theories of
accountant Ralph Nelson Elliott, whose Elliott Wave theory predicted
the fluctuations of the stock market in the 1930s and ‘40s. According
to this theory, we may be in for the biggest crash since the collapse
of the South Sea Bubble in 1720 (look it up in your old college econ
book), a financial disaster that was so devastating that people were
fearful of buying stocks for 100 years. Prechter says the Dow Jones
average is likely to sink below 1,000 points (it’s currently hovering
around 10,000) and stay there for years. This would put us back into
the economy of the Stone Age.
Monday, August 2, 2010

Jim Crockett and Fred Ball

Music Robert Downes The River Runs Deep for Old Friends Jim Crockett and Fred Ball
By Robert Downes
Thirty-seven years ago, Jim Crockett set a pen to paper in a
reflective mood and wrote “The Manistee River,” possibly the
best-known folk song ever to come out of Northern Michigan.
Through the years the song, which is a waltzing melody of family
troubles washed away by a peaceful river, has been performed so often
at folk festivals, concerts, and on college radio station WNMC, that
the mantle of ‘elder statesman’ of Northern Michigan’s folk community
has settled on Crockett’s shoulders.
Monday, August 2, 2010

Deport a migrant, raise your grocery bill

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Deport a migrant, raise your grocery bill
Will deporting illegal immigrants send your food bill through the
roof? It depends on who you ask.
First, a little background:
It seems hard to believe now, but 10 years ago, then-new President
George W. Bush proposed granting amnesty for 8-10 million illegal
immigrants living in the
United States. Bush, who spoke Spanish and was familiar with the
illegal immigration problem in his role as the former governor of
Texas, had a plan to create an improved guest worker program for
migrants in the U.S., and to allow illegal immigrants to begin the
process of becoming citizens.
Monday, July 26, 2010

Soundtract for Film Fest

Music Robert Downes local musicians provide the soundtrack for Film Fest
By Robert Downes
Imagine this: you’re a relatively unknown musician laboring in the
obscurity of faraway Northern Michigan. Then a big-deal Hollywood
director comes to town and is absolutely enchanted by one of your
tunes at the Traverse City Film Festival. The next thing you know,
you’re hobnobbing with Brad, Angie, Johnny and Scarlett at the Oscars,
celebrating the success of your Academy Award-winning song.
Well, it could happen, but if not, then at least several dozen local
musicians will have their 15 minutes of fame on the stages of theaters
this week, performing before the curtain rises on the festival’s
Monday, July 26, 2010

The case for Rick Snyder

Random Thoughts Robert Downes The case for Rick Snyder
Rick Snyder, the “one tough nerd” GOP candidate for governor, is hoping that
Democrats and independents will join moderate Republicans to help him
win the primary election on August 3.
Snyder has qualities that appeal to both Republicans and
Democrats, while maintaining credibility as an independent outsider.
The venture capitalist from Ann Arbor also has top credentials in
business at a time when Michigan could use some expertise in the jobs
Monday, July 19, 2010

Kids & Guns

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Kids & Guns
A sad commentary on our times is the State Senate’s recent passage of
a new gun safety program targeting young children in our public
No pun intended.
Monday, July 12, 2010

Easy fixes ignored

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Easy Fixes Ignored
There’s a bridge over the Boardman River on the bike path in Traverse
City where teenagers enjoy jumping into the water nearly every day in
the summer. They climb eight feet or so up the framework and make the
leap of perhaps 20-25 feet into the river.
Monday, July 12, 2010

Russ Baron

Features Robert Downes A Matter of Life & Death: For Russ Barron, health care reform can’t come soon enough
By Robert Downes
Russ Barron has literally died five times during the course of his
life, with his heart coming to a complete stop, -- a terrifying
experience that includes the realization that he may have only minutes
to live.