Something About Me

April 14, 2016

Bernie Sanders took time out from his campaign to walk the picket line and encourage striking workers in New York City today (The Communication Workers of America). It was exactly the right thing to do. Workers need to know that someone in Government is willing to walk the hard walk with them. I know from experience. It made me smile with a memory.
I was running to be the Democratic Party candidate for Governor of Michigan. I got into the race a month late and more than a dollar short on campaign funds and political support. It would be a guerilla campaign.
The UAW had a designated candidate, Larry Owens. I should say the UAW leadership had a candidate. Most of them had never heard of Mr. Owens. Many rank and file felt a need to get militant and respond. The Democratic Establishment wanted to play nice… appeal to the “middle ground” and make a pitch to the people of Michigan that was intended to look like a palatable alternative to the personality of John Engler, rather than a challenge to very first stages of an attack on labor. Mr. Owens was a nice man who had earned his political shot. He had raised a lot of money for the Party. He knew all the players, all the rules, and had made all the deals. He was known by everyone in the Party and very few else. I couldn’t stand it. In a moment of inspiration, or sheer madness (I still don’t know which), I decided to announce and run.
The Establishment did not like the idea of someone like me jumping in. I was not one of them. I was outspoken – meaning I said what I thought and didn’t mince words. I was not controllable. I sued Insurance Companies, Corporations on behalf of victims… in other words, I sued their contributors. I was initially dismissed, but when I produced a series of commercials that were very successful, it got their attention. The attacks from Republicans started, but so did the attacks from Democrats. Nothing new for me after representing Dr. Jack Kevorkian. I started driving around in a minivan and learning how to organize events, just walking neighborhoods… it was a guerilla campaign. I was on my own.
I remember the morning distinctly. We were walking out of the door to my Law Firm, about to get into a Pontiac minivan, and going over the schedule of stops when I noticed a headline in the Detroit Free Press – a plant was closing in Flint because GM decided to move the business to Mexico. The UAW was picketing even as they were pulling the machines out of the plant to ship to Mexico. “Those sons of bitches, this is what it is all about. We are cancelling the schedule and we are going to walk the picket line with them”. I had a friend, a driver and a “political advisor” with me at the time (someone who had run a few campaigns before and charged more than I did by the hour). The advisor and driver told me to keep the schedule. My friend told me “let’s go get a picket sign”. We went to Flint.
When we got there, I talked with a few workers on the line. I asked if I could pick up a sign and walk the line with them. After an hour or so, some UAW leader types arrived and said I couldn’t walk the line. Owens was their candidate. The workers on the line got in their faces and asked where Owens was and told them to pick up a sign. End of discussion, and the moment (I believe) I won the nomination.

Common Sense

April 8, 2016

So Ted Cruz is proposing treating Americans who are Muslims as a violent gang and “patrolling” Muslim neighborhoods. Trump (who has already proposed banning Muslims from entering the U.S, registering and giving ID cards to all Muslim Americans and closing down Mosques) is now proposing constant video surveillance of Muslim Americans. They claim that what happened in Brussels is going to happen here. You know the pattern… generate fear and take away freedoms. Let’s use a little common sense. We are not Brussels and what they are proposing will create a problem where this none.

Wonder why the terrorist from the Paris attacks was able to essentially walk the streets freely in Brussels for so long before he was captured? Wonder why the fifth attacker of the airport is still at large despite the most massive manhunt in their history? One reason is certainly the fact that Muslims in Europe are generally segregated and not assimilated socially or economically. They are treated with suspicion and bias by European societies. In other words, a Muslim in Brussels has no reason to cooperate with authorities. Given a choice, it is apparent that what they do is not so much to hide their fellow Muslim as much as refuse to cooperate with authorities who treat them with hostility simply because they are Muslim.

In the U.S. we would be naïve to think there are not sleeper cells already present. However, even the terrorist couple who went on the rampage in California had to hide their extremism from family members as well as neighbors. They escaped detection because they had to hide, even from their own relatives out of fear of being turned in. Muslim-Americans are integrated and assimilated into our society. They have access to the same opportunities as anyone else. Muslim-Americans are in the military defending our Country in Muslim battle zones in the Middle East. The FBI has arrested numerous terrorists based on tips from Muslim Americans. They are in law enforcement, and they are in the workplace. If there are Muslim “neighborhoods” it is because they choose to live in one, not because they have to.

This is what makes Trump and Cruz so dangerous. They propose treating Americans who are Muslims with hostility. This would create fear and resentments that would undermine the Muslim-American sense of ownership in our society and create militancy where there is none presently. It’s just common sense not to do what they propose, and they are probably intelligent enough to know that. However, as they have proven throughout the campaign, and as their GOP comrades in Congress have shown in general, they put their own political ambitions above the welfare of the Country.