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Letters 10/13/08

- October 13th, 2008
Sign of the times
I recently installed a political campaign sign near my home and within 10 days it was uprooted and tossed aside six times. Then it was stolen.
I realize this is bound to happen here and there, now and then, as election day draws near; and I know that people generally tend to shrug it off as something they can’t do much about anyway. But I sincerely commiserate with the people who are subjected to these callous intrusions into their lives; and I would like to address a few pertinent remarks to the misguided individuals who perpetrate them.
Attention smug, skulking minions of fear, ignorance and greed who under cover of darkness and at strategically calculated hours of the day violate our constitutional right to free speech and thumb their noses at the judicious laws of the state by vandalizing and removing lawfully placed political campaign signs: You are committing a crime.
Do you think that you’re cleverly manipulating “the system” to your advantage? Do you flatter yourselves with the notion that you’re gallantly exercising your freedom and patriotism? If so, you are deluding yourselves. In reality, you do nothing to further your political ambitions and only succeed in generating resentment, suspicion and mistrust in the hearts and minds of your neighbors. Is this your idea of the American spirit? Your self-indulgent, heedless violation of our right to free speech isn’t “freedom” -- it’s nothing more than contemptible bullying.
And “patriotism”? Someone, please, open a window! Your actions blatantly demonstrate that you have no sense of fair play and no real understanding of or respect for the just and humane principles upon which a civilized society is founded. You dishonor the true patriots who dedicate themselves to safeguarding and promoting those principles. And you abuse the better part of your own selves. (Imagine the ludicrous, feeble-minded, puerile image you project by sneaking around and attacking campaign signs!)
Come on people. Stop what you’re doing. Think. Respect the rights and dignity of others. Restore your own dignity by mustering up the moral courage and decency it takes to return those signs in their original condition to the places they were rightfully intended to be.

David Vincent • via email

Vote count fraud?
I have just seen the documentary Uncounted, and if you haven’t seen it, I would strongly urge you to do so.
Regardless of your political affiliation, it should get your blood boiling in very short order!
Most people don’t even pay attention to the fact we have no proof when we vote, that our vote is being counted as we cast it. Yet, the companies that make our voting machines also make the millions of ATMs around the world.
I’ve never seen an ATM that didn’t ask me if I wanted a receipt, yet ‘mysteriously’ we get no paper receipt when we vote.
It seems very simple, yet in the year 2008, we still have no way of monitoring definitively how our votes are cast. The potential for fraud is profound, at best, and also brought to light are serious problems in the event of a recount, should one be necessary. There is no paper trail or proof of how millions of voters might have voted with each machine. Think about the scope of that.
Are you aware that undetectable software for voting machines exists that can ‘flip’ votes? It doesn’t matter how many attorneys or poll watchers show up to help on Nov. 4, as they will have no influence on this reality. We don‘t have a democracy if our votes don‘t count! If this were happening overseas in a third world country, we’d be outraged, and sending money to help, yet it’s happening right here in our own back yard.
Where‘s the outrage?
There will be no action to protect our civil liberties -- i.e. our votes, if we continue to sit back and say it’s okay. We need to get our heads out of the sand, America, and speak up now!
Paper receipts for voting machines must be mandatory by 2012, and we need to have election day be a national holiday, or weekend event. We just can’t continue to accept this complacency from ourselves or our leaders, as thousands of voters are disenfranchised each election year.
Again, I would urge you to view the documentary Uncounted, playing on STARZ through Nov. 4, or if that isn’t possible, check out

Peg Muzzall • Petoskey

No defense for Palin
John Arens‘ article, “In Defense of Sarah Palin“ (10/6) never answered any questions I have for Palin, but mesmerized me with dazzling word associations -- very nice.
Can you tell me about her trooper-gate, the bridge to nowhere, opinions on the budget, foreign policy, actual successes of her leadership, views on the bailout, her religious radical preacher, Alaska’s secession by Joe Vogler (her husband‘s pal), what newspapers she reads, or anything relevant as to how she would lead?
How could she fail in a state that has the largest giveaway to its residents from oil, and not much else going on with a low population, far from the rest of the country? Do we really want another oil tycoon in office giving us monopolistic prices like the last administration?
Can anyone else see through the Palin charm with her catchwords (maverick), attacks of untruths? Words should mean something, have truth, and have some substance, facts, records, accountability, logic, math, vision -- and not just be used to stir fear.
I’m tired of Republican fear-mongering with no discussion of their past record, plans, or issues. We only hear negative sleaze, deceit, and emotion in which nothing gets done.
Come on, John, give me some meat that relates to Palin; how shameful a defense -- could it be there isn’t a defense at all? Do we really want a bimbo for vice-president?

Brad Krull • Glen Arbor

No Tina Fey for VP
Republicans cheer Sarah Palin’s debate performance. Just as an actress memorizes her lines, she’s been prepping with the experts since McCain cast her.
But I don’t want Tina Fey as our vice-president. Whenever Palin has been questioned in an unscripted environment without her handlers, her evident lack of knowledge and understanding of our constitution, our government and its institutions has been troubling.
McCain claims only elitists care about her lack of knowledge and experience -- that she’s “gonna learn on the job.” Did an intern perform McCain’s cancer surgeries? Are the responsibilities of the nation’s vice-president any less critical?

Marnie Lee • Interlochen

Ideas from Dan Scripps
“Government in Lansing is broken.” That’s how Dan Scripps, candidate for the 101st State House District, describes our current State Legislature. But Scripps has creative plans to fix it and our economy: new ideas about funding education, saving our Great Lakes, creating 60,000 new jobs in renewable energy, increasing state-wide Internet use, fostering tourism, promoting small business and agriculture.
But his opponent Ray Franz has some old ideas: it’s not important to protect Great Lakes; okay to sell our precious water in bottles; okay to build more polluting energy plants; okay for women to get lesser pay than men; okay for Michigan to be a dumping ground for the nation’s trash; okay for even more deregulation of big business. Such positions have greatly harmed us in the past.
Now more than ever we need new ideas and new leadership for our beleaguered state. Please support Dan Scripps.

Mary Easthope • Lake Leelanau

Errors identified
Your paper is interesting to read. However, there are a number of problems with two of the articles in the Sept. 22 Northern Express Weekly.
The article on methanol confuses methane (natural gas) with methanol (wood alcohol) throughout. We have vast quantities of methane and would not need to import 95%. There are vehicles which run on methane stored in pressurized tanks. However the gist of the article is the conversion of methane gas to methanol liquid so that it can be used as a fuel, rather than using ethanol (grain alcohol, denatured to make it unfit to drink).
The article on Bay Harbor Resort pollution identifies pH 9 as being acid. Actually it is basic (alkaline) as formed from the lime portion of the cement dust dissolving in water. The numbers listed for mercury in drinking water appear to be reversed, have misplaced decimals or confusing billion with trillion. As it reads, reducing the mercury to 1.3 parts per trillion should make it meet the stated safe level of 2000 parts per trillion.

Dr. Raymond Mayer • Prof. Emeritus Science and Mathematics, West Shore Community
College, Cadillac

(The national Methanol Institute vetted the article on the conversion of methane to methanol and has requested a copy for their website. Regarding the Bay Harbor story, the kiln dust leachate was identified as being alkaline throughout the story, although an error was made in identifying pH 9 as being acid at the end of the story. -- ed.)

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