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Preview: Michigan Radio: Jack Lessenberry: Jack's Take Podcast

Jack Lessenberry

Every weekday, Michigan Radio political analyst Jack Lessenberry offers up his perspective on the latest political news in Michigan.

Last Build Date: Wed, 20 Sep 2017 04:05:06 +0000


What we still owe our Vietnam veterans

Tue, 19 Sep 2017 13:15:50 +0000

There’s been a fair amount of excitement over Ken Burns’ new documentary series, this one an 18-hour blockbuster on the Vietnam War. Burns, who grew up in Ann Arbor, long ago became America’s tribal storyteller, the man who helps us find out who we are, whether the topic is jazz or baseball or the Civil War.

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Today's legislators don't seem to care

Mon, 18 Sep 2017 13:30:24 +0000

I’ve been talking to legislators and congressmen for a long time, and know something about lawmakers in the past as well. There are some ways in which I think today’s lot are generally better. For example, they are better educated and drink less. More of them are women, and I think there are far fewer on the take. But there’s also something very wrong with our legislature today, something that often makes me think we would be better off with the old boozing and occasionally brawling pols, some of whom were still around when I was a young reporter.

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Just shut Line 5 down

Fri, 15 Sep 2017 13:54:34 +0000

Earlier this week, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette officially confirmed what everybody knew: He is running for governor, or more exactly, for the Republican nomination next year. When he made his announcement, he said a version of what all politicians say; he is doing this, not for himself, but for the people, for all of us. Well, I know a good way he can start to prove that to us and help his candidacy at the same time:

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Detroit needs to embrace the metropolitan dream

Thu, 14 Sep 2017 14:10:24 +0000

Toledo, Ohio isn’t in Michigan, but should be. I’m not just saying this because of the famous and farcical 1835 Toledo “War,” that ended up establishing that the city belonged to Ohio, with Michigan getting the western Upper Peninsula as compensation. More to the point is that the Toledo economy is essentially the Metropolitan Detroit manufacturing economy. Like the Motor City, Toledo has slowly declined as auto jobs waned. The decline has been slower, however, as has the demographic change.

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Is Congress broken?

Tue, 12 Sep 2017 13:52:19 +0000

Three years ago, David Trott , a lawyer and a multi-millionaire player in the mortgage business, decided to run for Congress. He spent at least three and a half million dollars of his own money to win a seat representing a group of mostly middle-class, mostly white Detroit suburbs.

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Amazon to Detroit? Probably not

Mon, 11 Sep 2017 14:37:37 +0000

Amazon, the huge online retailer that sells everything from cookbooks to caskets, plans to build a second huge headquarters somewhere in America, and Detroit wants it -- badly. Sandy Baruah, the CEO of the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce, is part of a team fighting to lure Amazon to the Motor City. Dan Gilbert, who for years has been buying up vast amounts of Detroit real estate, says he's also put together a second team to woo them. Detroit Free Press columnist Rochelle Riley wrote that this could mean “the arrival of a company that could bring 50,000 jobs and a whole lot of hope to the Motor City.”

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Nuclear Fears

Fri, 08 Sep 2017 12:00:00 +0000

When I was in elementary school a national magazine did an article on what would happen if a hydrogen bomb were dropped on Detroit. I don’t remember all the details, except that windows would have been broken in Lansing, and where I lived would have been melted glass. This was back in the early 1960s, when we were still tucking ourselves under our desks in that famous “duck and cover” air raid drill. I wasn’t terribly sophisticated, but I was smart enough to figure out that squatting under a Formica desk wasn’t likely to save anyone. After the Cuban missile crisis, I read portions of a book I was probably too young for, Herman Kahn’s On Thermonuclear War.

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Baffled over Canada's bridge decision

Thu, 07 Sep 2017 15:13:03 +0000

No matter how bizarre your fantasies, reality is sometimes crazier. Nobody could have written a script for what’s happened in national politics. Nobody ever thought we’d be in some kind of nuclear standoff with North Korea. And few if any expected the Canadian government would ever grant Matty Moroun permission to build a new bridge next to his old Ambassador Bridge.

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Another Immigrant Story

Wed, 06 Sep 2017 14:42:29 +0000

As you almost certainly know, President Donald Trump said yesterday that his administration would end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA. Currently, the DACA program is allowing something like 800,000 young, undocumented Americans, people brought to this country as children, to stay here without fear of deportation. Trump gave Congress six months to “fix” the program, but it isn’t clear what he will do if they don’t. Campaigning for the midterm elections will be underway six months from now, and there are certain to be some embattled GOP incumbents who don’t want the president to do anything that might further jeopardize them.

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Lessenberry on DACA, MSU lawsuit, Little Caesar's Arena, and a new invasive plant

Wed, 06 Sep 2017 14:36:52 +0000

President Donald Trump announced yesterday that he'll end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA , program in six months. Gov. Rick Snyder issued a statement opposing the move and urged Congress to act quickly to clarify the status of so-called "DREAMers." Morning Edition host Doug Tribou and senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry discuss how pressure from Snyder and other governors could affect decisions made by Congress.

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Post-Labor Day worries

Tue, 05 Sep 2017 15:28:06 +0000

If you talk to someone in Governor Snyder’s administration, you might get the impression that Michigan’s workforce had a lot to celebrate on Labor Day. Last month, unemployment fell to an astounding 3.7%. Frankly, I never thought during the Great Recession that I would ever live to see our state’s jobless rate fall below four percent again.

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Detroit still has some heavy lifting to do

Fri, 01 Sep 2017 15:28:28 +0000

Earlier this week, I was asked to speak to all the incoming students at Wayne State University. Among many other things, I told them truthfully that I thought they were very lucky to be going to college in Detroit, which has become one of the most fascinating cities in the world. “Think about it,” I told them. “Do you ever see Philadelphia in the news?” Detroit’s comeback is a major national story.

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Michigan's education failures spell future disaster

Thu, 31 Aug 2017 14:42:38 +0000

We got the latest results from our statewide education tests earlier this week, and here are the highlights — without the jargon. Johnny mostly can’t read as well as he should, and neither can Susie, although she’s doing a little better. Both are doing a little better in math than last year, but not nearly as well as they should.

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Wayne Bradley is clinging to a vision of the Republican party that no longer exists

Wed, 30 Aug 2017 16:16:46 +0000

What do you do when the group you’ve belonged to your entire life no longer represents your values? This has often been a problem in the melting pot that is America. Children upset parents by rejecting traditional customs, like arranged marriage. But it is also a problem in politics.

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Lessenberry on Michigan's disaster response plan, Snyder's possible pardon of Iraqi immigrants

Wed, 30 Aug 2017 14:31:04 +0000

As people in Texas and Louisiana struggle to deal with the impact of Harvey , the storm is also generating new conversations about how to deal with flooding in other parts of the country. Mid-Michigan is still recovering from floods in late June , and many Michigan cities have had problems in recent years.

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Keeping his word

Tue, 29 Aug 2017 13:22:48 +0000

More than two years ago, in one of state politics’ more sordid recent episodes, State Senator Virgil Smith Jr . was arrested after he shot up his ex-wife’s Mercedes. According to prosecutors, the Detroit Democrat was “alcohol dependent” at the time, had asked his former wife to come over for an intimate encounter and then physically assaulted her before shooting up her car. It is unclear whether he was trying to shoot her too.

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Are we becoming desensitized to Trump's outrageousness?

Mon, 28 Aug 2017 14:49:36 +0000

There’s an old saying that if you put a frog in a pot of water and gradually increase the temperature one degree at a time, the frog won’t notice or hop out before it is cooked. Scientists say this isn’t really true for frogs, but it may well be true, at least intellectually, for people. Certainly, we can become desensitized to about any form of outrageousness. Consider what we are living through now. We have a President of the United States who says things almost every day that would have been unimaginable for any previous president. Not even Senator Joe McCarthy, the red-baiting demagogue of the early 1950s, ever said anything like this: “Democrats have no ideas, no policy, no vision for the country other than total socialism and maybe frankly a step beyond socialism.” Basically, that’s saying the Democratic Party is not only socialist, but flirting with communism. That he said it at all is beyond appalling, and what’s nearly as remarkable is that it was not very stunning. Any

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Citizens vs. Taxpayers

Fri, 25 Aug 2017 14:52:12 +0000

I had lunch yesterday with Mark Bernstein, the University of Michigan trustee who flirted with a run for governor next year before deciding not to. He is smart, funny, and I think genuinely committed to making the university and this state a better place. We were talking about what’s wrong with state government when he said something that suddenly hit me like a revelation. We were talking about how attitudes have changed, and he said, “I think a big part of it is that instead of seeing ourselves as citizens, we now see ourselves as taxpayers.”

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Waiting even longer for the Gordie Howe Bridge

Thu, 24 Aug 2017 14:11:53 +0000

There was a story two days ago that was almost entirely ignored in America, but which has significant implications for this part of the world. Dave Battagello of the Windsor Star reported that the new Gordie Howe International Bridge will be delayed another full year.

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Why I don't Tweet

Wed, 23 Aug 2017 15:03:39 +0000

Robyn Vincent is a journalist from Detroit who moved to Wyoming some years ago, where she is the editor of Planet Jackson Hole , which she has built into one of the nation’s more interesting and journalistically vibrant alternative newspapers. I was honored to learn a few months ago that she follows and admires my work. She wondered, however, why I don’t tweet. She told me that if I did, I could have a considerably greater following than I do now.

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