Milwaukee as the Canary

August 24, 2016


Milwaukee exploded without warning recently as yet another black man was shot and killed by a police officer. The official story is that the man was fleeing the officer and had a loaded assault rifle in his hand. I don’t know what happened. There are probably only two people who do – and one is dead. I’ve been involved with far too many police misconduct cases to uncritically accept the official police version of any incident and will wait for the body camera footage to form any impression.

What I do know is that Wisconsin is an open carry state, so the man may have had a legal right to carry the gun. When was the last time you heard of an officer shooting a white man openly carrying a gun? Whether in Wisconsin or Minnesota a black man carrying a gun legally can be shot on sight by the police. In Milwaukee the man was running from an officer, which seemed to that officer to be adequate reason to shoot him in the back. In Minnesota the man was simply riding in a car and reaching for his I.D. as instructed. Not that being an unarmed black man will lessen the chance of being killed by the police, but there does seem to be two sets of gun laws in the U.S.: one for African-Americans and one for the rest of us.

Some people were surprised by the suddenness and violence of the Milwaukee uprising. They shouldn’t be surprised. Whether the shooting was justified or not, it was more than enough to trigger a reaction that was ready to explode. No doubt, a lot of people will focus on the lawlessness of the rioters and the apparent lack of justification for their rage. What we should focus on is the fact that this rage is barely beneath the surface in many communities across the country. There is a valid grievance in these communities – a grievance rooted in economic injustice, the lack of opportunity to escape poverty, and the militarization of law enforcement to restrict and control whole populations. Focusing on individual incidents like Milwaukee miscommunicates the nature of the problem. Milwaukee is like the Canary in the mine – it is a warning that something is happening much more dangerous than isolated incidents across the country.

Extreme Vetting of Immigrants

August 23, 2016

In one of the sillier attempts to disguise the bigotry of his ban on Muslims, Trump unveiled the 5th or 6th version of the Muslim ban. “Extreme, extreme vetting of immigrants” is the current proposal. What this means is up to anyone to guess. Like most of Trump’s policy proposals there are no details, not even an outline. It could be similar to extreme snowboarding for all we know. Maybe extreme vetting will look something like this:

Government agent: Are you a terrorist?

Immigrant: No

Government agent: Are you sure?

Immigrant: I am sure. I am not a terrorist. I want to live in a free society. One without a hostile government.

Government agent: Are you really, really sure you are not a terrorist?

Immigrant: I am really, really sure.

Government agent: Because if you really are a terrorist then you could get in serious trouble here. President Trump does not like terrorists. That’s why we are doing this extreme vetting.

Immigrant: I am not a terrorist.

Government agent: Do you believe in the Constitution or Sharia law?

Immigrant: I want to live under the Constitution. I am trying to escape Sharia Law.

Government agent: Well that was our trick question and you passed.

Anyone who buys the “extreme vetting” line is simply … stupid (I’ve never been politically correct). But Trump is not stupid. He is ignorant, unfocused and uninterested in facts, but not stupid. He is simply blowing into the “dog whistles” to get the GOP base up (and “base” is the right label). Just like when he claims that all of the media are “the lowest form of life on Earth” — another dog whistle. Meanwhile “crooked” Hillary is just laying low in the weeds, perhaps the luckiest candidate ever.


I Am No Trump

August 16, 2016

The Detroit News published an interview of me discussing some aspects of the Trump campaign compared to my own experience running for Governor. On the surface there are similarities. We both entered the campaign late and ran as outsiders. We both were dismissed as celebrity candidates and still won against the establishment candidates. Both of us are outspoken. I think the similarities end there.

Unlike Trump I earned my fortune and I earned it defending the rights of my clients rather than inheriting wealth and cheating people.

Unlike Trump, I received no financial support from the Democratic Party, while Trump is getting a lot of financial and logistical support from the RNC.

Trump is an empty suit – he has no real policies on most of the important issues, and the ones he has announced would benefit only the richest Americans, or change almost daily. On the other hand, I proposed specific plans to rebuild Michigan infrastructure, and lower taxes on working families. I had a plan to increase medical insurance coverage while reducing premium costs long before Obamacare was conceived.

Unlike Trump, who is proposing a massive expansion of government and government control, I proposed decreasing the size of Michigan government and expanding the rights of citizens to be free from government mandates. Unlike Trump, who changes his position depending on his audience, my policies and speeches were published and consistent.

So let me share a little wisdom I learned during my brief foray into politics. While I sympathize with his outsider status, and appreciate the “showmanship,” I also know there is a difference between not being politically correct and hate speech, and the fact that words mean something. One can be angry at injustice without creating injustice. Having a moral compass creates consistency and predictability. And finally, it’s how you treat other people that defines your character, not the size of your bank account.

Danger! Danger Will Robinson!

August 15, 2016

A few of us baby-boomers (and maybe a few enlightened Millennials) might remember the old television series “Lost in Space.” An iconic bit on the show was the robot palling around with the child wunderkind Will. Whenever danger was present the robot would go wild, flashing lights, waving arms and warning “Danger! Danger Will Robinson!” The joke was that the robot never noticed the danger until it was obvious and long after the viewers. For some reason I was reminded of the bit after watching for myself the full comments of Donald Trump on the Second Amendment “solution” to Hillary. Maybe it was the man in the red shirt sitting behind Orange Jesus who couldn’t restrain his own shock at Trump’s comment. Like the robot in Lost in Space, the man could clearly be seen reacting with alarm and mouthing the word “WOW.”

The intent of Trump was clear. He should at least be interviewed by the Secret Service, if not investigated for a criminal act. He is a danger, escalating his threats from beating up opponents who attend his rallies to suggesting killing Hillary if she is elected President. However, the real danger is revealed in the reactions of Trump supporters. A comment so far out of bounds should never be tolerated in our society, and would have never been tolerated before a certain black man was elected President. Yet, Republican office holders such as Paul Ryan make the same excuses for Trump and continue their “support.” To be sure, Republicans with a moral compass are denouncing Trump, but for the most part there is a shocking lack of reaction. Even the man who mouthed “wow” at the rally did an interview the next day and announced that he was still going to vote for Trump! He didn’t appear to be mentally ill or intellectually challenged. He seemed like the prototypical “man next door,” if that man were out of touch with reality.

Considering the possibility that there is a significant part of our society that supports such a man for the Presidency then it is long past the time to announce “Danger! Danger fellow Americans!”

The Sacrifices Trump Has Made

August 9, 2016

Alright all of you Khans of the world, here is a list of the sacrifices Donald trump has made for his Country.

  1. From 1959 to 1964: He served honorably in the New York Military Academy High School. Says Trump, he “got more training than many men get while serving in the military.”
  2. From 1964 to 1968: Multiple deferments from the draft. Not the conscientious type, but it was still very difficult for him to stay in college instead of serving during a war.
  3. From 1980 to 1997: Avoided contracting any sexually transmitted disease. “It was my personal Viet Nam. I feel like a great and very brave soldier.” (By the way, didn’t we lose that war?)
  4. He created thousands of jobs.


And if you have any doubts about whether or not Trump has read and understands the Constitution, consider the fact that on July 7th, Trump clearly and unequivocally announced his support for “Article XII” of the Constitution. Maybe he should get one of those pocket Constitutions. Then again, it wouldn’t make a difference. This is a man with a pathological narcissism that runs through everything he does. Creating jobs for people to perform the labor that makes him money is, to him, a sacrifice. In the mind of a narcissist, the money he paid to people who ultimately made him money were taking something from him. They should work for him for free…

The attempts to smear the Khan family were the inevitable result of a complete lack of response about his lack of sacrifices and understanding of the meaning of the Constitution. They simply can’t defend Trump, so they attack these two fine people. I hope that this is the real turning point of the election.

The “T” Word

August 8, 2016

What are the top 5 responses of Trump supporters to his encouraging Russian espionage against the US?

  1. The media is lying about what he said.
  2. Ya, but Hillary…
  3. He really meant to say…
  4. Ya but Hillary…
  5. Ya, but Hillary…


When does the love of Country “trump” the hatred of Hillary Clinton? I am not a big Hillary supporter. In fact, I am pretty angry at the Dems for anointing her as the candidate even before the primary process began. Is there any doubt that Bernie, or nearly anyone else as the nominee would mean a huge advantage in the polls right now? However, the comments of Trump encouraging a foreign power to commit espionage may not be treason per se, but is certainly a felonious act. It is a felony to encourage a crime, and hacking any private citizen’s e-mails, let alone those of the State Department’s. So what does the Party of “Law and Order” have to say in response? Nothing.

I sat marveling at the hypocrisy exploding from the Republican National Convention when they all chanted “Blue Lives Matter” – the same Party that blocked bills to help support 9/11 first repsonders for years. The Party that has tried to lay sole claim to patriotism now stands in silence as their candidate encourages our adversaries to spy.

Was this an act of treason? Probably not his motive, but Trump is so ignorant of National Security issues and self-centered that he still sees no problems with compromising national security if it serves his purposes. Come to think of it… isn’t that why they wanted to throw Hillary in jail?





Mr. Khan’s Effect

August 5, 2016

It was perhaps the most important speech at the Democratic National Convention, and may be of any in this campaign. Mr. Khan became the face and voice of American Muslims in such a dignified and effective way that it could affect the Fall election. Most Americans have no personal relationship with a Muslim family. I have known several through my work as a trial lawyer. So when Trump and his allies began to caricaturize American Muslims as “silent participants” in terrorism (Trump said they are not “turning over the terrorists,”) and claiming they seek to impose Shari’a law in the United States, many Americans believed them.

We’ve been through this type of process with virtually every wave of immigrants in our history and African-Americans have been going through it for centuries. It’s easy to hate someone you don’t know or understand. Integration of immigrants (and to a lesser extent, races) means that a face – a relationship replaces racist stereotypes and fear. Mr. Khan not only provided that experience for the first time to millions of Americans, he did it in a way that could only be called inspirational. He virtually shamed the Trump campaign and many of his well-meaning supporters. He put into clarity the moral and patriotic choices we face in this election, but even more importantly he reminded us that the way to end fear and hatred is to seek dialogue. When there is a personal experience with an individual of a group, then the fear of the group disappears.

Now, Trump responded with an attack on the mother, implying that she was silenced by her Muslim faith, consistent with their attacks on the Muslim faith as oppressive to women. Her response to his attack was even more powerful – she was still grieving so much that she could barely talk about her loss. Yet she had the courage to stand before thousands of delegates and millions of Americans on television. Their challenge to GOP leadership to have some moral courage and repudiate Trump has been met with only the confirmation of their cowardice. Moral clarity is a powerful thing. Dr. King exemplified that principle and now we have the Khan’s.




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