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Booing Brewer

Lessenberry's right about all the arrogant power games of Michigan's Democratic and Republican parties ("Our disgraceful Dems," Metro Times, April 9). Again we suffer from Mark Brewer's ongoing disastrous leadership of the Democratic Party hacks. They wasted taxpayers money on this botched primary (Republicans came out OK), made Democrats look really bad to any independent paying attention, and botched our right to vote.

Until Brewer is out I will be voting for Greens or writing Brewer's name in for all the bottom of the ballot races I don't care about. If they don't care about me, I will show them I don't care about them. —Dan Walker, Belleville


The politics of denial

Jack Lessenberry couldn't be more correct in calling out "Our disgraceful Dems." I realize Michigan and Florida aren't the only two states whose leaders disagree with and maybe even envy the status Iowa and New Hampshire enjoy in our nation's political process. However, Michigan and Florida are the only two states whose leaders decided it was OK to act like petulant, self-indulgent teenagers to force a change, miscalculated the risks, ignored the costs their constituencies are paying for it, and to this day have refused to acknowledge they were wrong and should not have done it.

Wait a minute! That sounds familiar! Oh, yeah ... George W. Bush. Quagmire. Iraq.

And everyone thinks these two political parties are so different. Honestly, doesn't it choke you up to see them finally coming together like this? —Robert Pettengill, Kimball


Waiting for dust to settle

I am not an apologist for the Michigan Democratic Party, and I can agree that they screwed up. But there is a silver lining to this debacle. The real possibility that, next time, we will have a sane primary period — say by rotating regions. To lament what happened is like crying over spilled milk. Partisan politics have never been neat nor squeaky clean. I would laud your argument if it included the real threat to our democracy which is the caging lists by the Republican Party, their voting fraud like in Ohio, and their efforts to thwart the efforts to vote of people who traditionally vote Democratic with such things as "voter ID." I will vote for either Clinton or Obama — whichever is our standard-bearer. Either is a light-year better then John "Keep us in Iraq for 100 years" McCain. You say you voted for McCain in some cockeyed "protest" — well, I guess you can do it for real next November. I choose to see the big picture rather than some flub by the Dems, and will do my darnedest to see one of them defeat McCain. —Mike Smith, Clawson


Ship of fools

Kudos to Jack Lessenberry for another insightful op-ed. This whole business of being one of the first states in the nation to hold a primary never appealed to me in the first place. Being the first isn't always desirable, such as with electronic gadgets, which tend to be far higher-priced, as well as having more bugs in the system, when they're introduced.

I've always liked being later in the primary process, as it allowed more time for an informed decision. What really irked me was that we voters were never consulted as to what our preferences were in the matter.

Unlike Mr. Lessenberry, I could not vote for someone who sang "Bomb-bomb-bomb, bomb-bomb Iran," or who has such an abysmal voting record on women's rights and the environment. I also did not want to vote "Undecided," as it seemed to me that the delegates assigned for them could vote for anyone they wanted — even the Republican-lite Hillary. Thus I cast my vote for a proven progressive — Dennis Kucinich. However, when I received a mass e-mail from Mark Brewer, the state Democratic Party Chairman, explaining how the delegates would represent the vote, there were no delegates assigned for Mr. Kucinich, even though he won 4 percent of the vote. It seemed to me that he should have won 4 percent of the delegates. I fired back an e-mail to Mr. Brewer, but never received a response.

Earlier this week, I got an e-mail from the Hillary campaign — they got my e-mail address when I voted for her campaign song (I wanted KT Tunstall to get more exposure) — asking me to sign a petition to have the votes in Michigan and Florida counted. This is extremely slimy on her part, and proves to me exactly why she can't be trusted.

If we can't have a re-vote, then, just as Lessenberry says, the delegates should not be seated. The pro-Hillary people can whine ironically about the denial of representation, when that was assured when the misguided leaders stubbornly went ahead — George Bush-like — with the early primary. I have faith that Howard Dean will stand firm on this issue. —Don Handy, Mount Clemens


Giving unions their dues

In his Feb. 20 article, Lessenberry states that the Michigan Republican Party's positions on "Right-to-Work" and "Paycheck Protection" are about union busting. In his letter ("The name game," Letters to the Editor, Metro Times, March 26), Steve Sutton differs by saying these proposals are needed to eliminate coercion.

I can't decide if Sutton's position comes from ignorance or guile, but his statements are either dead wrong or misleading. Sutton declares that a worker has no choice about whether to join a union or not if he's hired into a workplace that is unionized. The truth is that once a majority of workers at a workplace opts for union representation, federal law requires the union to represent all of the workers fairly. Yet federal law also gives the workers in every state the choice not to be members of the union. In 28 states, workers and employers are free to negotiate union security clauses, which require non-members to pay agency fees, to cover their fair share of the costs of union representation, although not the costs of the unions' political, legislative, social and charitable activities

The remaining 22 states have exercised their option under federal law to enact "right to work" laws that prohibit workers and employers from negotiating union security clauses, thereby allowing free-rider nonmembers to avoid paying their fair share of the costs of representation. Federal law requires no other kind of organization to guarantee the benefits of membership to nonmembers.

Sutton states that "Paycheck Protection" bills are necessary to protect workers from unions unscrupulously using their members' money. The truth, again, is that these bills are really efforts to reduce the voice of organized workers. Another name for this kind of legislation is "Worker Gag Rule." These proposals would require unions to obtain written permission from members before spending dues for any political purposes. Unions are already prohibited from using dues to finance campaigns for or against candidates, including "issue ads" aired before an election. The Department of Labor already requires strict reporting rules on all of these activities.

Polls unerringly demonstrate that most workers would like to be represented by a union. American history is clear that a majority of employers did not hesitate to intimidate, threaten, hire thugs and to kill workers that tried to form unions.

Yes, it took the force of law — The National Labor Relations Act of 1935 — to allow workers to organize for better wages and working conditions. Nearly every improvement in the work lives of American workers has been fought and won by organized labor. (Strangely, all of these improvements in the lives of "laborers" were opposed by Republicans.) —Elaine Crawford, President, IBEW Local Union 58, Detroit


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