Letters to the Editor

Sep 12, 2007 at 12:00 am

No hustings here?

Kudos to Jack Lessenberry for a pretty good piece on the mess created by the Michigan Democratic Party's decision to join Florida in bucking Democratic National Committee (DNC) rules on the dates for presidential primaries ("Primary concerns," Metro Times, Aug. 29).

While Jack's explanation of why Michigan Democrats want to trump the traditional early states of Iowa and New Hampshire, by moving Michigan's primary up to Jan. 15, 2008, was right on target, he did not even allude to timing and the resulting downside of this crazy decision.

Nor did Jack discuss the irony of the decision of frontrunners Sen. Hillary Clinton, Sen. Barack Obama and former Sen. John Edwards to abide by DNC rules by refusing to campaign (spend time and money) in any state, such as Florida and Michigan, that has violated DNC rules by holding an early primary.

Out of all the presidential campaigns to decide to break free of not only DNC rules, but longstanding political tradition, can anyone fathom why Debbie Dingell, her husband, congressman John Dingell, Sen. Carl Levin and Gov. Jennifer Granholm decided on 2008? Why now? This is the worst possible time for Democrats to be fighting each other: President George Bush and the Republicans are on the ropes and ready, for the good of America, to be knocked to the canvas!

The decision to move up the Michigan primary, in defiance of the DNC, is further evidence that, when faced with an almost guaranteed Democratic Party win in next year's presidential contest, Michigan Democrats, particularly Debbie Dingell and Carl Levin, are so lacking in political insight that they don't realize that they may well be the prime movers in snatching defeat from the jaws of victory! —Larry Hightower, Detroit


Little Republicans

Your column "Primary concerns," reminded me of how much more important to the process of electing a president the party conventions were years ago. The primaries were important, but the states with nonaligned electors at the convention were a major factor as candidates made deals to build a coalition to obtain their party's nomination. Today, the major factor is the money a candidate is able to raise, so as to dominate the state primaries and offer, as you stated, a preordained convention choice.

When we moved to this area about 28 years ago, I was struck by the amount of signs for Republican candidates that were visible in auto plants. I remember talking with an autoworker who said that he and the others in the plant made so much money that they had outside businesses, rental properties and similar local investments. Because of this, they felt that they were closer to the investor class and no longer just workers. They felt closer to the Republicans and this showed in the signs in the plants and the way they intended to vote.

Today, that plant is gone. Those workers are gone. They never achieved the clout in the Republican Party that they had as Democrats. The national political clout that the UAW had is gone. The clout of the domestic auto industry diminishes daily. Perhaps this needs to be included in the reasons for the economic decline of the state of Michigan since then. —Henry Fleming, Troy


Lend me your ears

Regarding Curt Guyette's article "Corn hole" (Metro Times, Aug. 15) and the assertion that turning corn into ethanol is hurting ranchers, who claim that the price of cattle feed is rising as a result: Caution, Curt! You are methodically misled by mavens of mantra. There is no negative effect from using corn to make ethanol.

As Paul Harvey would say, "Now for the rest of the story"

The total digestible protein in feed corn is 8 percent. The total digestible protein of dried brewers grain is 32 percent to 43 percent. The volume of corn as dried brewers grain after the extraction of ethanol is 25 percent of what you started with. The immediate benefit for animal feed is that the dried brewers grain has a digestible protein content greater than the corn you started with.

That means that there is a net gain, not loss, of animal feed value from the process. There is no loss of food value for livestock. Also, you can grind the corn cobs and mix them with the mash to eliminate the need to fully dry the brewers grain.

You have one-fourth the volume but 4 times the food value. This is a win-win plus the manure value is not diminished in any way.

Animal manure has become the new commodity in agriculture. It's an emerging market we should step into now while its hot. As a result of ethanol, more corn is being planted, and the price of beef and pork is down 10 percent to 15 percent.

As a point of information, dairy cows are routinely fed chicken dung because of the high nitrogen content and the cows' ability to digest it. —Alan Stirling, Detroit


Kernels of wisdom

I have some issues about your "Corn Hole" article. I drive an FFV car that gets 32 miles per gallon of gasoline. It also gets 32 miles per gallon of E-85 fuel.

You have some good points about ethanol because we cannot depend on corn forever for fuel. But it could be an interim strategy to reduce oil wars. More people would use E-85 fuel if there were more E-85 fuel pumps. As far as taxes to the individual for ethanol fuel, the U.S. citizen has subsidized the oil industry for years and years while they rake in billions in profits.

Now let's consider the poor Mexican expensive tortilla. You may want to research what NAFTA did to 2 million independent self-sustaining Mexican farmers first. Why should we be concerned about having to transport ethanol fuel which uses more energy than using a pipeline when U.S. manufacturers transport raw materials to China (across an ocean) so they can pay some slave laborer 25 cents per hour, then transport the finished product back to this country (across an ocean) so they can get wealthy and make Michigan workers poor. The real problem with making ethanol from corn is that it requires too much water and that may be the limiting factor over time. —Carol Timm, Brooklyn

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