09-29-2016 Letters and Commentary

The ark’s shadow

 The ark cast a long shadow in the evening light of the setting sun. Looming large over the surrounding hills as it had for many years, it was finally done. Time must be short. Noah had not heard recently from the God who had given him the original instructions for the design and construction of this huge vessel. Noah faithfully continued the project. Finally there came new instructions. Noah, his family and the animals were to enter the ark he had built. Noah obeyed and God shut the door behind them (Genesis 7:1-16). No one had ever seen something so large, and with the closest river not very deep, it seemed like a waste of time, effort, and resources. Little did they know that God’s patience had come to an end. They would all soon perish; all except Noah and his family.  Jesus mentioned Noah in a description of what the world would be like when He returned: “For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah.   For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so will the coming of the Son of Man be.” (Matthew 24:37-39) Again many will perish.  Five months later, on the “seventeenth day of the seventh month”, landing on the mountains of Ararat, they waited for the earth to dry out. (Genesis 8:4)  That day was the very day centuries later when Jesus, our “safe place” provided by God’s grace, would rise from the dead, confirming our rescue from eternal destruction. The shadow of the ark of Noah took the form of a cross.

 Social Security is committed to treating all Americans fairly. This commitment extends to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender people covered by Social Security’s many programs.  October is also National Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) History Month. It is a month-long annual observance of the history of the gay rights movement. First observed in 1994 to coincide with National Coming Out Day, the month has evolved to include a more diverse range of people identifying as LGBT.  On June 26, 2015, the US Supreme Court issued a decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, holding that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry in all states and have their marriages recognized in all states. This decision made it possible for more same-sex couples and their families to benefit from Social Security.  We now recognize same-sex couples’ marriages in all states, and some non-marital legal relationships, for purposes of determining entitlement to Social Security benefits, Medicare entitlement, and eligibility and payment amount for Supplemental Security Income (SSI). We also recognize same-sex marriages and some non-marital legal relationships established in foreign jurisdictions for purposes of determining entitlement to Social Security benefits, Medicare entitlement, and SSI eligibility.  We encourage anyone who is unsure whether they are entitled or eligible for Social Security to apply right away for benefits. Applying now will protect against the loss of any potential benefits.  If you have any questions about how to apply for benefits, call toll-free 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778). We can answer specific questions from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday. We treat all calls confidentially.  Visit socialsecurity.gov/people/same-sexcouples to apply for benefits and learn more about our policies for same-sex couples.


Mike McKay meets Criteria

Dear Editor,

This is an extremely important judge election and we MUST elect the most experienced, qualified, FAIR, and person with integrity.  This person must be qualified for the job, have experience, have tried criminal cases and understand the necessity to represent every person coming before him as judge; equally, fairly, and with respect for each individual.  There is only one choice that meets this criteria and that is Mike McKay.

 Please vote Mike McKay for Judge.

Marvin G. Flick

Paw Paw

Mike cares for Van Buren County

Dear Editor,

Thank you so much (Van Buren County voters) for giving me the opportunity to campaign for judge. While I did not make it to the general election, I did meet a lot of wonderful people along the way. I also learned a ton during these last few months that I can build on in the future.  I went into this endeavor knowing I was the long shot because of the cost of running an election. I felt that I was a great third option for the people of Van Buren County. When I first discussed running I had a million questions and got a lot of help from an unlikely source – that source was Mike McKay.  Yes, one of the people I would be running against. He actually took the time to answer my questions and help make sure I had what I needed to get on the ballot.  Some might think he would be crazy for doing that, because it forced a primary election and would double his work to become the next judge. So why would he do this?  Mike cares about Van Buren County enough that he wanted to make sure that the people of Van Buren had two candidates that are invested in our county. I hoped that we would be the two candidates that the people of Van Buren County would choose from because then either win or lose you would be getting an experienced and dedicated judge.  Unfortunately, I didn’t make it through the primary election. I still have hopes of being a judge one day and until then I will remain vested in Van Buren County.  With that I thank you all and ask you to join me in supporting Mike McKay for our next 7th District Court Judge.

Nichole Dunfield-Hameed

Attorney at Law

Paw Paw

Lakeland is a gem of a health care system

Dear Editor,

I’m writing to extend my heartfelt gratitude to Lakeland Hospital. Their compassion and professionalism is top notch from all their employees. Their love, respect, and goodness towards each other was the first thing I noticed. In a world of suffering, you people make all the difference, your kind words and care; I thank you so very much!  Southwest Michigan has a gem of a health care system. I encourage all who find they need health care to consider Lakeland Health Care. It takes courage to face the daily grind of difficult situations as they apply their expertise in the health care arena.  I extend heartfelt gratitude to Great Lakes Heart and Vascular. January 22, 2012, I experienced a heart attack due to an artery blockage in the left ventricle. I was rushed to Lakeland St. Joseph that evening. Dr. Christopher Chiu and emergency staff were stat and installed a stent, restoring blood flow to the left ventricle, saving my life! I am so thankful, you people are so awesome!  Please don’t ignore heart pain (angina), hesitation will cause heart damage, don’t do it, call 911 now!  Recently, August 23, 2016, I underwent surgery and received an implantable cardioverter defibrillator due to a weakened left ventricle. A normal heart pumps a blood volume of 55-60%. My heart is at 15% ejection fraction; thus the implant to regulate. Various therapies will extent my life accordingly.  The implant procedure was done by Dr. Jerome Kuhnlein of Great Lakes Heart and Vascular. He and (his) staff did such a great job. And thanks so very much; I experienced very little pain and was awake through the whole procedure.  I am doing very well, post implant; enjoying life to the fullest. I do want to thank physician assistants, Dr. Dave Chalupa and Dr. Scott Mihalik of the aforementioned Great Lakes Heart and Vascular.  Kudos to the paramedics of Pride ambulance; thank you for your dedication to the communities you serve.

Raymond J. Massie


Be aware of who pays for political mailings

Dear Editor,

I have received five very expensive glossy mailings from Beth Griffin, the GOP candidate who is running against Democrat, Annie Brown to be our State Representative in the 66th District.  At first glance you might think that this is very impressive and an indication of her qualifications to be your representative. If you look closer you will see that all of these mailings are paid for by Americans for Prosperity.   This might prompt one to do some research to see how she will represent you.  Americans for Prosperity (AFP) is a conservative political advocacy group funded by the businessmen and philanthropist brothers David H. Koch and Charles Koch, it is one of the most influential American conservative organizations.  It has organized significant opposition to initiatives such as global warming regulation, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the expansion of Medicaid and economic stimulus. It helped turn back cap and trade, a major environmental proposal. AFP advocated for limits on the collective bargaining rights of public-sector trade unions and for right-to-work laws, and it opposed raising the federal minimum wage.   AFP’s policy positions align with the business interests of the Koch brothers and Koch Industries, including its support for rescinding energy regulations and environmental restrictions, and reducing government spending, primarily on Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.   Griffin has been her campaign’s top contributor with $40,000, total raised $110,000. This doesn’t include these very expensive mailings paid for by the AFP. It does include $9,000 from the DeVos family in Grand Rapids and $7,500 from Michigan Values Leadership PAC.  Annie Brown has raised $61,503, with most of her funds from local donors. Her biggest contributor has been the Michigan Women Win PAC, which gave $2,500.  When you get a mailer, see who paid for it. Outside special interest groups spend a lot in direct mail to influence local elections to maximize their influence at the local level.  As a retired resident of this district I am very happy that I looked into this and I hope that this information will help you to decide who you will be voting for.  I for one will be voting for Annie Brown who has spent the last three years listening to the local families, workers, and community leaders of the 66th District! She will protect our Social Security and Medicare as well as other policies that keep our families strong. I don’t want outside interests buying my representative.

Kathleen Murphy

Paw Paw

Beth Griffin for State Representative

Dear Editor,

I want to cut to the chase. In good conscience (I) can’t watch my country go down hill without making sure my local elected officials are men and women who believe in this Republic.  Our freedom isn’t free, and we can’t afford liberal agendas in this area. I already pay too much in taxes, and we have empty storefronts we need filled up. We should be attracting more businesses, not driving them away with red tape and higher taxes.  I met Beth Griffin, and she works on these issues as a county commissioner. Now Aric Nesbitt can’t run again, so we need a new State Representative… who do we choose?  I figure I got two choices this fall, vote for liberty or open up the door to higher taxes coming from the Democrats. Not on my watch! I may be a small town man, but I have worked hard in my community my whole life; from fireman to DDA, and Chairman Bangor Police Commission all the while running my welding shop for 45 years. Beth listens to my concerns, and understands what it means to run successful business.  We have to make sure we work together where we can and stand up where we should to stop those that would deter our liberty. I am voting for Beth Griffin for State Representative.

I hope you do too!

Barry Tourtellotte

Trump is a charlatan

Dear Editor,

What would be the result of a Trump win this November?  Some outcomes depend on the Congressional elections, but one thing is certain – a whole bunch of the domestic issues Trump has promised to fix, such as creating 25 million jobs, repairing our infrastructure, building the wall between the US and Mexico and deporting all of the much maligned illegal immigrants would not happen.  Why? Because Trump has not developed plans and policies to actually accomplish any of these things, and even if he had they would be too expensive, given the tax cuts he has proposed. Many economists, Republicans as well as Democrats, have been very clear that if Trump’s grandiose ideas were implemented, the federal deficit and debt would skyrocket.  So what would happen if Trump were elected?  Well, if the Republicans held both houses of Congress, you can bet that the Affordable Care Act would be repealed, Social Security would be privatized and Medicare would be pulled back to private providers using a premium support program.  Net effect: low and middle income households and seniors would see diminished healthcare and diminished retirement income.  Many of the problems with the Trump campaign are caused by the conflict between the pseudo-populist theme of his message and the contents of the Republican platform.  Recent Republican platforms, including this one, have been focused on increasing the incomes of the wealthiest among us, and hoping that “Trickle Down Economics” (otherwise known as “Voodoo Economics”) would provide growth in jobs and low income wages.  It has not worked in the past and it will not work this time.  If he were to win the election, Trump will have energized a large group of voters who expect some results.  These folks are not from Wall Street, they are middle and lower income people.  Who knows what will happen when they realize they have been bamboozled, but the generated disappointment will be aimed solely at the Republican Party because it created and fed this charlatan’s candidacy.

John A. Gallagher, PhD

New Buffalo

Upton is avoiding debates

Dear Editor,

When a candidate representing tens of thousands of people refuses to debate the issues for the public, that candidate should automatically lose the debate, and the election. Without debates, “We the People” lose out on making informed decisions.  Congressman Fred Upton avoided all debates with his opponent, Paul Clements, in the 2014 election, and he’s trying to get away with it again this year. Recently, he finally agreed to only one debate, at 9 a.m., behind closed doors.  Why does Upton refuse to publicly defend his highly controversial voting history in Congress?  Fred Upton’s top campaign contributors are the fossil fuel industry, health insurance companies, and Washington lobbyists. Upton rakes in their donations and spends the money on name-recognition photo-ops. He pays for expensive, professional writers and camera crews to produce infomercials, while avoiding public debates. Our elected representatives should be able to answer questions without assistance; if they’re proud of the work they’re doing, then they shouldn’t be afraid to face relevant questions.  One glaring possibility for why Fred Upton is shying away from the spotlight is because he doesn’t want to be asked about his support for every single trade deal going back to the 90s; especially for his recent support of the TPP, which both presidential candidates denounce as a major job-killer.  Public figures should be required to participate in public debates. We should be able to watch, and record, their responses to relevant questions. If they want our vote they need to let us see and hear them answering questions, not being actors in an infomercial. As a result of refusing legitimate debates, Upton is denying his constituents a chance for proper inquiry about his congressional performance, including his unwavering support for the very industries that are the financial backbones of his candidacy.  Upton should admit that his lack of transparency and his unwillingness to take fair questions from the public and his opponent demonstrate dishonesty – that would be the honest thing to do.

Virginia Washburn

Grand Beach, MI

Hillary Clinton is right choice to become Commander in Chief

Dear Editor,

My 20 years in the U.S. Army, including a tour of duty in Vietnam, gave me an ever-widening view of the world and what it means to be an American.  Being an American includes exercising our Constitutional right to vote.  Throughout our history, the American people have defeated demagogues like Donald Trump.  But, in order to do that we all need to stand up and vote thoughtfully for our next Commander in Chief.  Trump’s history includes disparaging prisoners of war such as Senator John McCain; lying about his support for veterans, including false claims about giving money to veterans’ charities; scamming veterans out of their money through Trump “University”; and unconscionably criticizing the Muslim family of a slain U.S. soldier.   At the recent Commander in Chief forum, Trump criticized American military officers, saying that America’s generals have been “reduced to rubble.” Trump also suggested that it’s OK to send our military around the globe to plunder enemies’ natural resources, like oil. He spoke glowingly of privatizing veterans’ health care, and he made a priority of lavishing praise on Vladimir Putin, Russia’s dictatorial leader.  According to the non-partisan Research and Policy Institute, Trump’s plan to cut taxes for the richest among us would necessitate cuts to a number of vital services, including veterans’ medical care.  Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, has spent decades fighting for veterans, members of the military, and their families. As a US Senator on the Armed Services Committee, she helped to expand military benefits to cover reservists and the National Guard.  Currently, she has proposed a comprehensive plan to help support active military and veterans, including: 1) Expanding family leave and access to child care for families juggling the demands of military service and parenthood; 2) Engaging the private sector to boost training and job opportunities for the husbands and wives of our military members; 3) Taking family circumstances into account during military reassignments around the world; and 4) Championing the care and needs of service members by establishing a standing council for service members, veterans, and military families to ensure government agencies are meeting their needs.   Hillary Clinton is committed to supporting our soldiers and our veterans. She is clearly the right choice to become our next Commander in Chief.

Kenneth R. Peterson

MAJ USA (Ret.)


NO WINNER FOR ME IN PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE… I was torn between watching the debates or the Tigers vs. Indians baseball game.   Once I began watching Hillary square off on Donald, I soon forgot my hapless Detroit Tigers.  As an independent voter, I was really hoping for one of the candidates to hit a ‘homerun’ and have a walk off win. Sadly, that did not happen.  I liked Donald Trump’s demeanor and attitude at the start of the debate. Although he was light on details, he offered alternatives to national issues that were based on models of successful business practices.  I especially liked his point, on several occasions, that Hillary Clinton had had ten (or more) years to affect solutions to problems (such as race, police violence, infrastructure, and job creation) and had done nothing.  Then in true Donald tradition, he stopped answering questions, and began spewing bombastic statements on his great wealth, success, and energy.  I viewed Hillary skeptically from the start, perhaps from Donald’s view. She had a lifetime to effect change and had done little, especially from her day’s ion office as a Senator and as Secretary of State.   I was impressed by her ‘facts’ and focus and by how she handled Trump’s digs and attacks.   I was less impressed by her own attacks on Trump’s lack of income tax disclosure and cozying up to the Russians.   She was more presidential than Donald, but not enough to get my support; fortunately, there are two more debates. Hopefully Donald and Hillary will both do a better job so we independents will have a candidate in November.  CONGRESS IS THE CULPRIT… I wrote on Facebook this past weekend. I was responding to the ongoing conversations about the presidential candidates. Most of which contained the most outrageous claims and misinformation about the candidates and predicting what they would do as president.  I wrote… Congress is the culprit… I’m amazed by the nonsense attributed to the presidents (and candidates) when it is the congress and senate that is responsible for every aspect of our government. The President makes no laws and his budgets are approved by congress. He can only administer what is presented and passed by congress… Even the presidential veto can be over ruled by congress.   I think the fat cat senators and congressmen with pensions and benefits for life love the voters beating their gums over electing a president while they rarely are ever challenged for their own office.   Shame on us. Shame on you.   I was surprised by the instant response (and support) of so many folks, almost all adding the solution was to get term limits on national legislators (all can stay in office as long as they get re-elected).   Some responses, unedited…  “Term limits now, fresh thinkers are needed. Head lice are more popular than congress.”  “Thank you!!! I have been saying that for years. Our President, as you say, is only an Administrator and face of the nation. ‘We the People’ have allowed our congress to have too much control. You are right, shame on us.”  “You are so right. We need Congressional term limits now and their pensions changed to 401Ks. It upsets me that the president gets blamed for everything that our do nothing Congress does.”  “Yes, Karl, that is absolutely the crux of the problem… it seems most people don’t keep themselves informed enough about how our government really works… they only use the ‘Cliff notes’ which is the media, to garner their information and we know how unbiased and truthful that is!”


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