Thanks, Jack Lessenberry, for solving the shrouded mystery of Michigan's primary implosion ("Heroes & scoundrels," Metro Times, Nov. 14). As a recovering ex-journalist, I was astounded to wake up to WDET radio reports that an Ingham County judge had ditched the whole deal, and even more astounded to realize that the ruling had absolutely nothing to do with the story being (barely) followed by our intrepid news hounds — that of the early primary date running afoul of the national parties. With close attention and some insight into political machinations, listeners might have even figured out from WDET reports that the judge's ruling was based on a power play for the coveted lists.
But it was your column alone that provided full detail of the parties' maneuvers, assigned responsibility for those maneuvers and explained the plaintiffs and their motives. We live in a world of diminishing media returns. Your bothering to figure out what's actually happening is greatly appreciated. But can somebody tell me how the hell everybody else completely missed the story? —Phil Linsalata, Grosse Pointe
Mustering the force can be hard. Even though it is the dark side that he perceives, apparently Jack Lessenberry thinks I have the force. In his Oct. 31 column ("Our driven future," Metro Times), he ramped up his attack on — of all things — my name.
Weeks ago, I wrote a letter about Lessenberry's Oct. 17 column where he equated Leon Drolet to Benito Mussolini's "fascism ... to intimidate and kill members of parliament." How did Drolet become morally equivalent to a murderer of millions? By using Michigan's constitutional right of recalls. I don't recall recalls as the key tactic of 1930s fascism.
Jack was forwarded my letter by the editor and responded with a tirade of names, which I reprinted on my community and news Web site www.outsidelansing.com. Since I'm limited in space for this letter, I'll let my discussions online do most of the analysis.
Apparently my logic and analysis really got Jack's goat (or maybe his pig, I don't know), as half his Oct. 31 column parodied my name.
Now Lessenberry says it was all just a joke, and we who are confused by his joking about Benito Mussolini's Italy and murdering millions somehow don't get it. Apparently, calling conservatives fascists is just "good humor." Elements of Lessenberry's column might be "humor" — the parts devaluing the dehumanization and atrocities of World War II are not.
Humor is a great thing, and I actually enjoy a modicum of banter about my name. I even used the "Zark-Vader" tag as a team name in a fantasy football league. But calling people "gay imitation fascists" is over the line, whether you are on the right or the left.
Does he have a right to join his worshipped pink pig in the mud? Certainly. But we have a right to condemn it too. —Chetly Zarko, editor, www.outsidelansing.com
I read with great interest the "Iraq inkblot" (Metro Times, Oct. 31), and would like to add my voice to those commenting on Congressman Dingell's troop withdrawal bill. As a founder of Michigan Peaceworks (and its executive director from 2002 to 2006), I had many opportunities to interact with Congressman Dingell and his very dedicated staff. If there's one thing I learned about Mr. Dingell during those years, it's that he is a man of integrity and principle. He doesn't do anything for symbolic value or show.
Dingell moves thoughtfully and deliberately — sometimes more slowly than I would like — but when he hits, he hits hard. As the leader of many probes against government waste and corporate corruption, he is regarded as a strict defender of the public trust. He has earned the respect of his colleagues and the ire of corrupt officials. When he speaks, it carries a weight that most voices on the Hill do not.
Kudos to the congressman for taking leadership on the Iraq War issue, calling for a complete troop withdrawal before the next president takes over and for humanitarian assistance to the people of Iraq. We can expect the congressman to push his troop withdrawal bill with all the vigor he used in defending Social Security. Now is not the time for cynicism. Congressman Dingell's bill deserves the support of all who wish to end our national tragedy in Iraq. —Phillis Engelbert, Ann Arbor
Errata, etc.: The article "Courting Controversy: Wayne County's Mary Beth Kelly and her chorus of critics" (Metro Times, Nov. 7) incorrectly stated that Wayne County Circuit Court Chief Judge Kelly finished 19th in a field of 22 judges in the 2002 election, which selected 20 judges for the bench. Kelly finished in ninth place.
A letter from Kelly's attorney also said that reporter Sandra Svoboda "falsely stated that Chief Judge Kelly 'declined repeated requests from Metro Times for interviews for this article.' In fact, the only communication she had with Ms. Svoboda was an e-mail exchange in which Ms. Svoboda responded to the chief judge's question about the nature of the article by misleadingly stating: 'Mainly I'm following up on last year's change in juvenile court to see how the attorney assignments are working out.' As you well know, the discussion of juvenile court assignments was one of six separate sections of the article, and was less controversial than other accusations in it."
Svoboda's original e-mail to Judge Kelly requested an interview "about several happenings around the court." When Judge Kelly asked in an e-mail, "What are you writing about?" Svoboda responded with the "mainly" comment.
Svoboda says she also left at least two telephone messages with Judge Kelly's staff. Svoboda said she explained she wanted to discuss several ongoing issues and was told "the judge probably wouldn't talk at all because of pending litigation."
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