...at our union picnic. We talked for about 15 minutes about a variety of subjects: Civil rights, Gitmo, health care, the drug war. He had some very interesting things to say I've not heard elsewhere. The most interesting was about Gitmo. And some good news for working people who need help and don't qualify for Medicaid. Follow below.
The day he finally nailed down the Senate race, he came into the Lucky Wishbone to eat lunch and rub knees with the hoi-poloi. He and I had briefly met several times before when he was Mayor. I walked to him as I was leaving the 'Bone and congratulated him. I asked if he would do me a favor in Washington. He waited for the request and asked him, "I want you to restore Habeus Corpus." He said, "I'll try. There's a lot of work to be done." I thanked him for his time and left.
Cut to Sunday and our union picnic. He came to thank us for our COLPCE contributions and our feet-on-the-ground-door-to-door efforts in getting him elected. It was the absentee ballots which put him over the top. We gave him a big turnout of foot soldiers and explained the facts (about the Repub's and Fox) and encouraged folks to vote absentee. He credited us for electing him. He might have been blowing smoke up our skirts or might have meant it. Politicians are by nature... politicians. He stood around with his aide talking to whomever approached him. I waited until most everyone had shaken hands and give well wishes. I shook his hand and asked him if he remembered me. He said he did but who knows.... When I asked him if he remembered our encounter at the Wishbone the day he was declared the winner, the easy smile kind of crept away. I think he remembered what I had asked of him. Now, both he and I know that one Senator cannot acomplish this. But I said, "What happened to Habeus Corpus? Why is there still a Gitmo?" Believe it or not, he engaged me. I would have thought his aide would have cringed and taken him off to his next event. Nope. He was encouraging about the future rights of most of the detainees. He said there will be bi-partisan support to give at least some of the detainees access to civilian courts. He mentioned McCain and Graham, which surprised the hell out of me. I then asked him about the children that we swept up ten years ago and who are now thoroughly radicalized. He gave me an honest answer. He said, "I don't know" and looked away when he said it.
The conversation moved rapidly to other subjects, such as health care. He told me that part of the Affordable Care Act which is coming on-line, he said "in the next few months" would allow working families who make too much to qualify for aid but can't afford the insurance out there, especially those with special problems, will now be able to qualify for Medicaid on a sliding scale. My daughter cannot afford any insurance and her S.O. makes too much money for her to qualify for Medicaid. Now she will be able to afford it based on this sliding-scale. Hopefully.
I asked him about the $40 billion dollars a year we're throwing away on the Drug War, and he starting saying something about the rumblings of power considering "it" (in essence anyway) and decriminalizing marijuana. I pointed out why marijuana will never be legal because the taxes on it might be billions, the industry of Prohibition is hundreds of billions. He had no answer for that. We chatted some more about this and that, he's frustrated at the Washington impasse with the republicans and the clown show in the House. Aren't we all.
Meanwhile, behind me the entire time, my "friends" were making motions to the good Senator to indicate I was crazy or dangerous or both. I'm told he was getting a big kick out of it.
Mark, if you read this. It was fun talking to you again. Be careful of the oil companies; they're pernicious to one's career.