December 26, 2012

People often ask me “why?”  Why do you choose to take public stands that could hurt your business?  Why do you choose to comment on political issues? Why do you spend so much of your money on media to comment on social issues instead of advertizing your business? So I decided to answer the most common questions I have been asked in the last few weeks. Here are a few answers to the many questions.

1.      Why did you support President Obama for re-election rather than fellow Michigander Romney?

Because I have a daughter.

2.      Why do you take so many political stands when it can hurt your business?

My “business” is helping to create a just society, through my own actions, through the law or through politics. If I was only concerned about making money, I would never take many of the cases I do. Some things are more important than money or popularity.

3.      Why did you believe that race was the real issue with people opposing President Obama?

Not everyone opposed to the President are motivated by race. The ones who are the most virulent and hateful such as the “birthers”, the Tea Party… you know, the ones who told us Obama was a Muslim, was a socialist, was going to take away all our guns – basically the ones repeating the talking points of Fox News are. Their irrational hatred justified by lies is a giveaway. The article by Ta-Nehisi Coates in Harper’s Magazine “Fear of a Black President” is a great historical primer on the issue.

4.      Why are you still working after so many years? Why don’t you just relax now and enjoy life?

I do take vacations every once in a while, but for the most part, I am happiest when I am fighting for someone. I am sure some psychologists reading this will speculate about early childhood or displaced anger, but… who cares why? What I do helps people and makes me happy. I am a very lucky guy.


My America

December 26, 2012

Many of you have seen or heard my op-ed commercials “My America” (and thank you for all of the great feedback). I decided on the theme of “My America” because I wanted people to think about what kind of society they want their America to be – for themselves and their family. What do you want and how can you help build that America? I can tell you what kind of America I want.

I want an America that is an extension of my own family. I want an America of mutual respect and support. America could be a family where its members are encouraged to make it on their own with hard work, but can expect that in hard times the family would pull together to help. I want an America with a family budget that is prudent and builds toward the future, but is willing to borrow money to provide for necessities and opportunities.

I want an America like a family that welcomes friends and neighbors, one that can be firm without anger and consistent with how it treats its members. I guess by now you get the idea of what I am attempting to do with “My America”. What kind of America do you want?

Ironies Make the World Go ‘Round

December 26, 2012

Anyone catch the ironies from the RNC falling faster than rain from Hurricane Sandy?


Fox News called out VP nominee Ryan after giving a speech full of lies and misleading statements?

Delegates chanted “We built it” in a convention center built with tax monies by union workers?

Romney’s pollster said that he was not going to let the campaign “… be dictated by fact checking”?

Paul Ryan defending Romney rejection of the GOP platform of no abortions at any time for any reason by saying that it’s a free country and Romney could make that personal choice for himself?

Delegates giving standing ovations to women combat veterans after endorsing a platform rejecting any role for women in combat?

A GOP delegate was ejected for throwing peanuts at a black CNN cameraman and saying “this is how we feed the animals”?

Just think of the possibilities if only Palin, Cain, Perry, Bachman and Akins had been allowed speaking roles at the GOP Convention… the clown car would have been number one in the ratings!

The Real Agenda of “Right to Work”

December 14, 2012

It is time to go to war, not only on Rick Snyder and Republicans in Michigan, but also on their real masters – the DuVosses and Koch Brothers. And I don’t mean just political war. They need to feel the pain that they are directing at working families in Michigan. This “lame duck” session was not just a sleazy betrayal of Snyder’s campaign promises to us, or a political payback from Republicans for supporting the Constitutional Proposition enshrining collective bargaining rights [is the need for that Proposition to pass obvious enough now?].

The so-called “Right to Work” is an economic policy by the Plutocracy to destroy unions by defunding them. In the short run, defunding the unions accomplishes an obvious political goal. In the wake of Citizens United, the only significant factor to offset the hundreds of millions of dollars corporations use to buy their political candidates are the unions. By defunding the unions, there will be no financial force to represent the needs of the middle-class and working families.

The “Right to Work” has been called the right to work for less, and rightly so. In virtually every State that has passed this legislation, wages have decreased for every worker. The data on job production is mixed, with some States gaining jobs and others not gaining any additional jobs, but the bottom line is this: working families will need more jobs because they will no longer have an opportunity for a living wage. Corporations will turn this Country into a third world Country in terms of wages. Then they will not have to ship jobs overseas to pay slave wages.

The union movement was born in violence, with men and women literally sacrificing their lives to help others. Let’s hope and pray that the movement doesn’t suffer a passive fate. 

The “War” on Women

December 14, 2012

With the big hubbub over Todd Akin’s remarks on raped women, it seemed important to me to put his comments in context. After all, the majority of Republicans agree with his policy on no abortions permitted under any circumstances (this is the G.O.P. platform), even if many regret his choice of the word “legitimate”. However, I have yet to hear G.O.P. apologists explain away the implications of his misogynistic medical explanation that a women’s body can “shut down” fertilization in the situation of rape. No responsible medical professional would support such a proposition (at least not one in the 20th century), and doesn’t it really mean something else? If a women does get pregnant from a rape, even with this “protective” shut down, doesn’t it mean she really “wanted it”? That’s what he was really saying. That such a misogynist could be elected by a majority of Republicans in Missouri suggests that there really is a popular support for the war on women within the Party as a whole.

No one could seriously question the misogyny of the G.O.P. considering the actions of The House Republicans in the last few years. These include:

  1. Attempts to limit access to women’s birth control
  2. Decreasing funding for women’s health programs
  3. Attempts to defund Planned Parenthood with all of their preventative screening   
  4. Decreasing funding for food assistance to impoverished women and children
  5. Defunding inoculations for cervical cancer
  6. Stopping legislation protecting a women’s right to equal pay for same work
  7. Stopping legislation to restore a women’s right to sue for job and wage discrimination
  8. The “personhood” law that would ban abortions at any time under any conditions
  9. The attempt to outlaw all abortions except due to “forcible rape”
  10. The failure to censure Representatives using misogynistic terms for women House members

Those are just a sample of what the new G.O.P. has in store for our mothers, wives and daughters.  God help us if they ever control the Government after the next election…

Snyder Fooled Me, But They Don’t

December 13, 2012

Four years ago I got a lot of grief from my fellow Democrats for making a comment to the effect that Rick Snyder seemed to be a decent guy. I thought he was – until now. What he has done to promote the closed door deal to make Michigan a right to work (for less) state is as cowardly as it is undemocratic. He and his fellow Republicans in crime deserve our scorn and should have to look over their shoulders every time they step out of the country club.  But this is not a personal thing. Rick Snyder has only joined the ranks of many Republican governors bought and sold by the Koch brothers and their corporate demons. Synder has only distinguished himself as a particularly cowardly one, that’s all.

There are some who say that the right to work (for less) law was just a payback for the union’s support of Manny Maroun’s bid to get his bridge, or the collective bargaining referendum. Maybe he is that small of a man, who can say at this point? However, this cowardly act is really part of the broader attempt by corporate America to end the American dream, and turn our country into one big plantation. By defunding the Unions these Plutarchs eliminate the only substantive obstacle to buying elections and eliminating living wages. Without unions there will be no middle class.

I have to admit that Snyder fooled me, but the real powers behind his treachery don’t. No, this is not personal, but it is policy – which is all the more reason to take to the streets and defend your rights. See you in the streets…   

Medical Caps

December 13, 2012

The Missouri Supreme Court recently ruled that caps on damages for Medical Malpractice lawsuits was unconstitutional, adding its ruling to an increasing number of State Supreme Courts to make the same determination. Caps on medical malpractice lawsuits were introduced by legislators representing insurance companies beginning in the late 1990s. The “claimed” rationale for caps was to reduce the rise in malpractice insurance premiums which they “claimed” were the result of excessive jury verdicts. The rise of insurance premiums actually accelerated during the post cap period, probably because insurance premiums are unrelated to jury verdicts and are mostly due to bad investments by the insurance companies. From a practical perspective caps are a total failure, but from a legal and a moral perspective, caps are an injustice and immoral.

For you right wing, less government ideologues consider this situation: you are a juror in a trial. You have sacrificed your time and your money to do your duty as a citizen. After carefully listening to evidence for 2 weeks you enter into deliberations with fellow jurors. After carefully considering the evidence, you all come to a unanimous verdict that you all feel is just and fair. You are proud of your work and your decision and just as you begin to announce the verdict you are interrupted by representative of the government. He says “The government has decided what the verdict will be in this case, and the Court will disregard the jury.”  That is exactly what caps are: the government of insurance companies over-ruling your verdicts and denying your rights.

Other State Supreme Courts will likely follow the inevitable legal conclusions. For example, the Georgia Supreme Court (no liberal bastion there) has ruled that caps are unconstitutional. However, many other Supreme Courts are dominated by Justices elected with the largesse of insurance/corporate company money and will refuse to follow the law until the U.S. Supreme Court weighs in (a scary prospect in itself).     

Supreme Angst

December 12, 2012

Just about everyone was surprised by the Supreme Court’s ruling on the “Obamacare” case, and rightly so. This is a Court in its present composition that has consistently ruled in favor of big business and often by ignoring legal precedent. The Citizen’s United ruling for example, reversed over 100 years of legal precedents. So why would the Chief Justice, that stalwart conservative, create a consensus opinion to uphold the Affordable Care Act?

There is a lot of speculation, though I haven’t heard of anyone venturing the explanation that Roberts suddenly grew a conscience and decided to side with concern for the welfare of the people. His decisions have consistently and strenuously sided with the welfare of corporations over people. Some have ventured a guess that he was increasingly concerned that Americans are losing faith in the neutrality of the Court and seeing the Roberts Court as a shill for corporate America with opinions crafted after Fox Cable shows. Justice Scalia is already widely recognized as the Bill O’Reilly of the Court. I even heard some commentary about “three strikes” on the Court: Bush v Gore, Citizens United and Obamacare.

I have to admit that my astonishment over the ruling is also accompanied with a lot of angst. The opinion rejected the idea of the Act falling under the Regulation of Commerce responsibility of Congress, which could be signal of things to come further restricting the Commerce clause. Next year rulings are expected on affirmative action, job discrimination, The Civil Rights Act and voter suppression laws. Maybe our rights have been slapped around so much by this Supreme Court that we keep expecting the next blow and can’t enjoy this small victory; I don’t know. In any event, we should not be lulled by this one decision and remain vigilant.  

Motor City Poacher

December 7, 2012

Ted Nugent has carefully weaned an image as a rock star/outdoorsman/gun rights advocate over the years. However, like most aging stars that devolve into irrelevance, his public antics have become extreme and even a form of caricature at times. However, it is not his rock star excesses that have made him news relevant, it is his evolution to a right wing hero. I recently read this that he feels “insulted” when he was disinvited to play in front of troops at Ft. Knox.  This incident (coming on the heels of his conviction for poaching) encapsulates a lot of the right wing hero worship that goes on, and how the right has lived in a parallel universe since Obama was elected President.

Nugent never had the courage or the patriotism to serve in the armed forces (see also Dick Cheney), so it is understandable that he doesn’t understand the military ethos. When he threatened President Obama, he threatened their Commander in Chief. The military has a strict ethos of avoiding any political position on leadership, and it is a bit of an understatement to say that threats against the chain of command are prohibited. No patriot, no matter how alienated would suggest violence against a President. Then again, to true hunters and outdoorsmen, nothing is lower than a poacher.

The hero worship of the right includes Sarah Palin. I once sat at dinner with a man who said that she was the “most articulate voice of the right”. I demurred, saying that someone who had to write crib notes on her hand did not strike me as articulate. Then there’s Rush Limbaugh, a man whose personal life including multiple failed marriages, drug addiction and criminal conviction probably illustrates the total disconnect between reality and the values of the right. They talk the talk but don’t walk the walk. It seems that all they do is give a voice to hatred, and the lesser angels of our nature.

But Nugent is one of our own – the Motor City Poacher , errrr, Madman. 

Binders of Women

December 4, 2012

It had to be one of the more ironic turns of a phrase in debate history: “binders of women”.  Of course, Willard was lying about his record and his actions in the past (his administration in Massachusetts actually had less women in senior positions; and the recommendation for qualified women was given to his campaign not by request). The resonance with the phrase is in the word “binders”. 

It’s no secret that Willard’s religion devalues the worth and rights of women, but let’s face it, most religions do. It is when that world view of women as somehow submissive or subservient to men translates into policy that we should draw the line. Refusing to support the Lilly Ledbetter Act is probably the most obvious confirmation that under a Romney Administration, women’s rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness would have suffered significantly. Some Romney apologists suggest that his refusal to endorse equal pay for equal work for women, was more of a reflection of his willingness to let corporations determine worker’s rights. However, when you look at the full spectrum of the policy positions of the Republican Party, one cannot escape the conclusion that Romney indeed was a “binder of women”.