Trump impeached, Nessel sues opioid distributors, GOP “adopt and amend” hijacks citizen-led petitions

December 23, 2019

Michigan Policast for Monday, December 23, 2019

  In this episode:

  • Trump impeached
  • What's next for FTDR?
  • AG Dana Nessel sues opioid distributors
  • Quick takes – clean energy, anti-Peters ad pulled, fake focus group, adopt & amend, deer baiting
  • Transcript


Jump to:

Trump impeached

What's next for FTDR?

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s signature pledge to “fix the damn roads” will have to wait until 2020, as she and the GOP Legislature never hammered out a plan — they barely agreed to a budget deal — and lawmakers are gone for the year. ~Source

'The #MiLeg has shown a complete lack of courage when it came to actually solving the problem. … So to do the same thing in year two would probably not be wise' ~@GovWhitmer #FTDR To Tweet
'I told the #MiLeg I wouldn’t want to be the one running next year on a #dirtroadagenda, which is essentially what I think some of them are prepared to do' ~@GovWhitmer #FTDR To Tweet
“Every day that goes by that we don’t actually solve the problem it gets more expensive. … We’re shutting down a bridge every other week in Michigan right now.” ~@GovWhitmer #FTDR To Tweet
“Michiganders prioritize tangible impacts that help working people ... and see a clear role for government in delivering these improvements” ~ @stateinnovation #ProgressiveIncomeTax #FTDR To Tweet
58% of Michiganders support repealing @MiSenate @MI_Republicans @OneToughNerd corporate tax cuts @stateinnovation #ProgressiveIncomeTax #FTDR Click To Tweet
“We can’t fund our local governments or pay for the roads and schools our families deserve if those who make less are asked to shoulder more of the weight. ~@VoteWittenberg @stateinnovation #ProgressiveIncomeTax #FTDR To Tweet
'When our state’s tax rules result in massive funding gaps for the things that matter most to the people of our state, it is time to rewrite the rules.” ~@VoteWittenberg @stateinnovation #ProgressiveIncomeTax #FTDR To Tweet

“Treasury spokesman Ron Leix confirmed the bills would raise an extra $2.5 billion in their first full year of implementation, and that 92% of Michigan filers would either get a tax cut or have their taxes stay the same under the plan.” Source

AG Dana Nessel sues opioid distributors

“Defendants used their licenses to distribute controlled substances in Michigan as a cover for what is essentially a criminal enterprise” ~@miattygen #OpioidCrisis To Tweet
“The opioid epidemic continues to be fed by these companies precisely because the fines and suspensions imposed by the DEA did nothing to change their business practices” ~@miattygen #OpioidCrisis To Tweet



Quick takes – clean energy, anti-Peters ad pulled, fake focus group, adopt & amend, deer baiting

Clean energy gets the shaft in the year-end spending bill

The White House, said Rep. Dan Kildee, “made it very clear that everything but electric vehicles is on the table.” The Michigan Democrat added that Trump “fell flat” in protecting Midwestern auto manufactures by refusing to subsidize the sale of low- to no-emissions cars. Elsewhere, the spending bill was filled to the brim with tax relief for everything from beer breweries and whiskey distilleries to churches with parking lots. Source

Anti-Peters ad pulled

“The fact that this dark money group’s first-ever ad was taken down for being blatantly false shows just how little credibility they have,” Japko said in a statement. “It’s embarrassing for them, and shows why Michiganders can’t trust what they say.” Source

Fake focus group

Adopt & amend

Deer baiting



Nancy Pelosi 0:05
On this vote the yeas are 230, the nays are 197. Present is one. Article, one is adopted.

Walt Sorg 0:18
And with that Donald john Trump became the third president in the United States history to be impeached. It happened even as Trump was in the middle of a two hour rant in front of about 6500 if his adoring masses in Battle Creek, this is the Michigan Policast we're all about Michigan politics and policy and the National forces impacting our peninsulas I'm Walt Sorg and much of today's pod will focus on the politics of impeachment.

Christine Barry 0:42
I'm Christine Barry. Governor Whitmer ends her first year in office with no fix for our pothole plagued roads. And she pins responsibility for that on a legislature that basically said no to any solution. And we've got two more examples about people's rights to enact laws through petitions. being abused by special interests.

Walt Sorg 1:02
And we'll have some quick takes on how republicans are fighting Michigan's auto manufacturers and the switch to electric powered cars and Dana Nessel's imaginative attack on the growing opioid crisis. But of course we do begin with impeachment.

Christine Barry 1:15
Yes, we do. In the house, there was a full day of debate on two articles. Democrats focused on the actual case against Trump's abuses of the Constitution. Congressman Dan Kildee put it in very personal terms.

Justin Amash 1:28
I have two grandchildren. My granddaughter, Caitlin is eight. And my grandson Collin is four someday, a long time from now they'll ask me about this day. They'll ask about the time a president put himself above the law, and they'll want to know what I did to stop him and I will have an answer for them. Today I vote uphold the Constitution. I will vote to impeach Donald Trump

Christine Barry 1:52
Well his grandchildren can be proud of him. For the most part, Republicans avoided talking about the facts and they just complained about the process and some of the rhetoric on that side get downright nuts. Check this out

Mike Kelly 2:05
On December 7 1941 a horrific act happened in the United States and this one that President Roosevelt said this is a date that will live in infamy today. December The 18th 2019 is another date that will live in infamy

Barry Loudermilk 2:18
when Jesus was falsely accused of treason. Pontius Pilate gave Jesus the opportunity to face his accusers during that Sham trial conscious pilot afforded more rights to Jesus than the democrats have afforded this president and this process.

Walt Sorg 2:47
All hail Donald Trump. A lot of the focus during the day was on first term democrats who represented districts carried by Trump in 2016 and flipped by Democrats in 2018. The most visible just about All of them was Michigan's Elissa Slotkin, she was very open with their decision making process. And they give her a lot of credit for this. her predecessor would never hold a town hall. And if he did, it was prescreened, who got to go there. Slotkin's held five town hall meetings just since coming out in favor of the impeachment inquiry. And they've been wide open, anybody could attend. She announced your decision at a town hall where a handful of Republicans with their so called homemade signs that all look the same, did everything they could to disrupt the meeting,

Elissa Slotkin 3:28
I knew it was going to be controversial when we came out and started, you know, realizing that this is the way I was going to go. We did that town hall on purpose and announced it to my constituents first, rather than doing it on national media so that they heard for me, but as I told them, I mean, I just think there are times in leadership when you have to make a call when you know something is the right thing, even if it's not the popular thing.

Walt Sorg 3:50
The fallout from it was the republican pack American Action Network is now spending about $25 million attacking Slotkin and eight other first termers. And they're doing a lot of it with broadcast as they go right to the point,

Anti-Slotkin Ad 4:04
The impeachment showdown. Elissa Slotkin knows her constituents were not supportive of impeachment, but voted for it anyway, a politically motivated charade that lets the Washington elites decide the election, not us. It's time they stop ignoring the issues we care about, like combating the opioid crisis and securing the border and helping our veterans to tell Congresswoman Slotkin enough with the partisan games get to work on the issues that matter.

Walt Sorg 4:34
I think one thing that's going to help Slotkin and the other democrats and Michigan is this state is the home to the one non democrat who voted in favor of both articles of impeachment. former republican now independent Justin Amash,

Justin Amash 4:46
President Donald J. Trump has abused and violated the public trust by using his high office to solicit the aid of a foreign power, not for the benefit of the United States of America, but instead for his personal and political game. His actions reflect precisely the type of conduct the framers of the Constitution intended to remedy through the power of impeachment, and it is our duty to impeach him

Christine Barry 5:12
and new PAC has come out in support of Justin Amash is called Country Above Party. It's led by Republicans who are critical of Trump. Jeff Timmer, Rick Wilson and john Weaver, and they expect to raise about $5 million in the lead up to 2020. They say there are 10s of thousands of like minded patriots in the district who will vote to put national interest above any political party. So they're very hopeful.

Walt Sorg 5:36
And Jeff timbers a former executive director of the Michigan Republican Party, he's the real deal. When it comes to being a political operative. I think it's gonna be a fascinating race. Because you do have a three way race. You've got a newcomer on the Democratic side, there's a primary but you got two newcomers running there. On the Republican side, the new candidate will probably be Peter Meijer, whose family has basically all the money in the world. So he will be able to Have a very well financed campaign. It's a district I think still the democrats have a good shot at, but I do see a lot of anti-Trump, moderate democrats maybe splitting off to support Amash just for having the balls.

Christine Barry 6:12
Yeah, there's something to be said for a congress person who makes you feel like you're respected. We've talked about this with Justin before where he explains all of his votes. He has town halls, he seems to be accessible. I was going to say the same thing about Elissa Slotkin and say what you want about, you know, you know, that those ads color, say something about a political charade. Well, the political games would have been if she had opposed impeachment on the basis that that's what was popular. She did what she thought was right, and she went out and she was accountable to the public for it. And I think Justin's the same way and I think that wins them both some votes, you can't say that. You don't respect what they do. And a lot of people are going to feel respected by them as well.

Walt Sorg 6:53
Okay. This is the holiday season, Christine. And as we know, one of the newer holidays is festivals. created on Seinfeld. And with festivus. It includes the airing of grievances

Seinfeld 7:05
The tradition of festivus begins with the airing of grievances. I got a lot of problems with your people You're gonna hear about it.

Walt Sorg 7:14
We had a festivus Festival in Battle Creek just as the President was being impeached

Christine Barry 7:19
and it was gross. While the house was voting, Donald Trump fuming strutting, throwing out insults and claiming victory in the two hour airing of grievances.

Walt Sorg 7:29
Two hours, he took two hours.

Christine Barry 7:31
That's not hard for him, because he uses the same words over and over again just ends them differently. Big Bigley, biggest

Walt Sorg 7:38
I heard a great description of the Donald Trump campaign speech from our friend Mark Murray, who does the Apollo cast with David Axelrod. hacks on tap. And he calls it it's like a Billy Joel concert. You hear all the greatest hits from the 70s 80s and 90s. All in one performance.

Christine Barry 7:55
Oh, well. I'm not sure when you know, install The late john dangle became a greatest hit. I hope that it does not turn out to be good for him. But he did that. John Dingell longest serving member in the history of Congress and he insulted Dingell's widow as well. Congresswoman Debbie Dingell

Donald Trump 8:15
Dingell. You know Dingell from Michigan. You know Dingell? That's a real beauty.

Walt Sorg 8:27
I don't want to play the part of it, where he basically

Christine Barry 8:29
Yeah, yeah, you know what, seriously, What an asshole. And it's these unnecessary acts of cruelty. They pop up in all of his and everything he does in all of his events. They're like bones in a badly filleted fish. You just cannot get away from this nastiness

Walt Sorg 8:48
to their credit two of the members of the Michigan congressional delegation who came out in opposition and told the president he owed representative Dingle on apology, or a Republican Fred Upton and the previously mentioned Justin Amash. They both took great umbrage at this insult to somebody who is the longest serving member of Congress in the history of the United States, a world war two veteran and a legend in Michigan.

Christine Barry 9:10
Well, look what he's done to john mccain. I mean, he he just doesn't care about that. It doesn't care about you know, your service to the country. He just cares about whether you supported him whether he liked you.

Walt Sorg 9:23
It's stream of consciousness grievance. It's me It's everybody's against me. Oh, poor look at poor lonely me, everybody's being mean to me. Shame on them and Shame on them.

Christine Barry 9:33
I know you had it worse than the ships at Pearl Harbor. He's got it worse than, you know, Jesus on the cross poor little fella.

Walt Sorg 9:42

Christine Barry 9:48
There have been other things going on here. Governor Whitmer met with reporters to wrap up her first year in office, and naturally much of the talk was about fixing the damn roads, which just isn't happening and the governor was quite emphatic on the culpability of the legislative Republicans.

Gretchen Whitmer 10:05
I did what I said I was going to do had the legislature follow suit or worked with me on those things, we could be avoiding the worst pothole season and in recent memory, which is what we're gearing up for this spring, because the legislature did never get serious about an alternative or actually solving the problem.

Walt Sorg 10:26
As you know Christine, I have been talking for months that the ultimate road solution will be through a ballot proposal, and specifically a graduated income tax amendment to the state's constitution. The governor picked up on that at the news conference. So she's very open to the idea.

Gretchen Whitmer 10:41
There's a lot of conversation in town around that. I know that there are a lot of stakeholders that are interested in going to the ballot with something of that nature. I know that a lot of legislators on the Democratic side have been talking about that. And that's something that I've supported and you know, many different times in my political career, and I suppose that that could be Listen.

Walt Sorg 11:01
Now the latest polling on this is really consistent with everything else we've seen over the last couple of years on a graduated income tax, a national progressive policy group State Innovation exchange, came up with a poll that said 76% of Michigan residents support the creation of a graduated income tax where millionaires pay more and working people get a tax cut, sort of like the Elizabeth Warren millionaire's tax, the wealth tax, very popular. And it's something that's it's a possibility, at least, but it's not going to happen for this cycle, because it's simply too late to start circulating petitions.

Christine Barry 11:33
Yeah, that's true. And a couple of things to note on this on this particular poll 76%. That is in line with numbers we've seen on other polls for this issue. It polls higher than the normal democratic vote. So it's not just democrats who support the progressive income tax, but one thing I wanted to acknowledge on this language was just the way that they phrased it. millionaires pay more and working people get a tax cut? I know what they mean. But that suggestion where millionaires, millionaires are not working people? You know, I think really, we can maybe talk about it in a way that doesn't say millionaires don't work.

Walt Sorg 12:13
Yeah. Well, it's it's always the way you phrase a question in a poll.

Christine Barry 12:17
Yeah, exactly. And, I mean, that's not a thoughtful question. But for a poll, it's probably a good question. The point that I really wanted to make was that that 76% number is higher than any of our recent democratic votes statewide. So in in Michigan anyway, it's more than just democrats supporting a progressive income tax.

Walt Sorg 12:38
The people that have go crazy will be the state Chamber of Commerce Manufacturers Association, basically organizations that represent the 1%. Yep.

Christine Barry 12:52
Okay, and the battle against the growing opioid crisis. Attorney General Dana Nessel is taking direct aim at the state's largest drug dealers,

Dana Nessel 13:00
Cardinal Health, McKesson, America source Bergen and Walgreens all used their licenses to distribute controlled substances in Michigan as a cover for what is essentially a criminal enterprise.

Walt Sorg 13:14
Pretty simple. You go after the people that are the the end suppliers. It's the old there you go after the the street dealers rather than the big cats because it's easier to answer them.

Christine Barry 13:24
I originally thought that this lawsuit was askew because what she was doing was saying, you have facilitated the crisis by shipping the drugs in My uneducated mind when it comes to this crisis was thinking how in the world can you blame the people who just deliver what's prescribed? But it's the lawsuit itself is based on a number of points that when you lay them out, it looks like it's a really solid case. And I think it's it's similar to cases that are ongoing all around the country right now, but they collaborated with manufacturers is to increase the market for prescription opioids. And they ignored the controls that were in place that would stop them from shipping more opioids to an outlet than what that outlet needs to fulfill its legitimate demand. I'll link to the PDF on the website, of course, but it's actually really interesting writing as as some other supplemental material that tells you more about new drug database that was just published.

Walt Sorg 14:28
According to a Washington Post article that's actually cited in the lawsuit. Nearly 3 billion opioid pills arrived in Michigan between 2006 and 2012. About 1.1 million pills a day. You know, it's fascinating that El Chapo is in prison for life for selling a lot of drugs and making a lot of money. The Sackler family is taking billions out of their company and living the good life. We're doing the same damn thing.

Christine Barry 14:54
Yeah, six companies distributed 75% of all the pills and this is the 76 billion oxycodone and hydrocodone pills that went throughout the nation. McKesson, Walgreens, Cardinal Health, America source, Bergen, CVS and Walmart. And I think five of them are named in the suit. It's really something and if you read the lawsuit and the documents that kind of surrounded that are referenced in the lawsuit, you'll see that there was an intentional collaboration between the manufacturers and the distributors that do, I think, give her some basis for this lawsuit.

Walt Sorg 15:31
The other side of this too, is even though a lot of people are dying from opioid overdoses, the crackdown that is resulting on the distribution of opioids. It's having the unintended effect of penalizing people actually really need these drugs. There are circumstances where having these pills whether it's actually or Vicodin, or whatever it is, is necessary. And it's becoming more and more difficult for physicians to legitimately prescribed these for their patients because of the necessary restrictions. being put on the distribution.

Okay, time for some quick takes before we head out for the holidays. Item 1 – the Trump administration is siding with the oil industry in fighting the transition of America's cars from gas guzzlers to electric, the omnibus budget bill that was passed despite the debate over impeachment fast during the week it eliminates tax incentives for development and purchasing of electric vehicles. Dan Kildee was quoted in one article saying the White House made it very clear that everything but electric vehicles is on the table. The Michigan democrat added that the President fell flat in protecting Midwestern auto manufacturers by refusing to subsidize the sale of low and no emission cars. elsewhere. The spending bill was filled to the brim with tax relief for everything from beer breweries to whiskey, distilleries and churches with parking lots. But apparently electric cars is something the oil companies don't want for obvious reasons. The Trump administration obliged them,

Christine Barry 17:02
yeah, they clean energy really didn't get much in the way of incentives this year. What happens all the time with Republicans? You try something new and they pull it out. Just want to keep the oil and coal buddies going I guess

Walt Sorg 17:14
Item 2

Christine Barry 17:16
Yes, the lies have begun. In the US Senate campaign, a Republican group was forced to pull an anti Gary Peters TV ad because it just wasn't true.

Anti-Peters Ad 17:26
their ideas extreme, their policies radical, and Gary Peters is falling right in line. Peters endorsed Medicare for all which eliminates private health insurance. Gary Peters supports the green New Deal killing millions of jobs. Devastating Michigan's auto industry. He's so liberal. He's voted with his party 94% of the time. Call Gary Peters. Tell him to represent Michigan, not radical Washington liberals.

Christine Barry 17:55
In fact, Peters does not favor Medicare for All he doesn't fully support that. The green New Deal, he's on record, you know on both of those issues better future Michigan is the pack that ran the ads, they've changed the language of the end, but a backup on TV. But say they stand behind what they said about theaters and they are going to continue educating people.

Walt Sorg 18:18
That's the problem with money in politics. And the way the system is set up, whether it's Facebook or broadcast, you can lie through your teeth. And if you get the money to pay for those lies, you can keep running them and running them and running them. Just in the last day. I've seen that ad against Gary Peters on both of the major Lansing TV stations as well as during an ad on CNN during the Democratic debate.

Christine Barry 18:38
Yeah, and as long as it sticks with somebody in their memory, the ad is done its job even if it was a lie, and it was pulled. You know, nobody remembers that ads get pulled. They just remember what they heard.

Walt Sorg 18:50
Absolutely. Absolutely. Some actual fake news in the news too. And this goes back to last Sunday on NBC Meet the Press. They ran what they called a focus group of Voters in Michigan's Kent County talking about impeachment. The premise was they wanted to check the pulse of regular voters outside the Beltway and they've labeled Kent County is one of the bellwether counties in the nation. Big problem. This focus group was composed of six middle aged white people who all voted for Donald Trump in 2016. And according to some of my friends in Grand Rapids, the bar they use for the focus group wasn't their bar, it was actually a much more progressive crowd, typically in the bar, and they doubted that any of the six in this focus group were actually regular patrons of the bar. In other words, the deck was stacked.

Christine Barry 19:33
Yeah, it was, and we'll have links to this story on the website, but you got to read Marcy Wheeler's right up on this, she really kind of dissected the whole thing and put in some video at some regular patrons of the bar. It's really interesting.

Walt Sorg 19:48
Yeah she just talked to people at random who actually do frequent the bar. And their thoughts were a whole lot different than the focus group that was represented on national television by Chuck Todd and the folks at NBC is being written Representative of Kent County Michigan. It was a real disservice, I think to journalism and Chuck Todd's taken a lot of grief for it and he deserves it.

Christine Barry 20:07
Yeah, a disservice to Kent County to they overwhelmingly voted for Gretchen Whitmer, I think, anyway, Item 4 – you theoretically have the right to enact a law through a citizen petition drive in Michigan. put it bluntly, the special interests have figured out a way to game that part of the system though, and there are two developments last week that illustrate this point, the first one minimum wage and paid sick leave. In 2018. There was a ballot initiative to get these up for a vote before the public, but the republican controlled legislature adopted those initiatives as laws in order to prevent them from going to the ballot and Walt you understand this better than I do, but if you turn in the signatures and then you've got like 40 days,

Walt Sorg 20:53
the legislature has has a few weeks to act on it and if the legislature doesn't act it goes to the ballot but the legit This lecture can adopt it as written in the ballot proposal and becomes law. What they figured out that they could do and the Supreme Court refused to overturn was the legislature came back after the election that didn't have this issue on the ballot and rewrote the petition to serve their special interests rather than the interest of the people who circulated the petitions. So basically, the 354,000 people who signed these petitions were screwed by the legislature.

Christine Barry 21:26
Right. And that happened in lame duck. And then there was a question as to whether it was legal. And this is where the Michigan Supreme Court comes in. The question was put to Dana Nessel, whether adopt and amend was a legal procedure in the legislature, and Dana Nestle, send it to the Supreme Court and they're the ones who decided not to take up the issue because there was no actual controversy on the law itself. So now it's back to Nessel. And we'll see where it goes from there. The other thing that happened right to life, it has An initiative going they're trying to criminalize the most common form of second trimester abortion. If they get enough signatures, Lee Chatfield and Mike Shirky will certainly take it up in the legislature and pass it with their majorities, which makes it veto proof.

Walt Sorg 22:15
Yeah, the governor is not allowed to act on these initiative, created laws. It goes straight from the petition to the legislature, and if they enacted it becomes the law. Now, this could get really interesting because right to life is announced that they've only submitted 374,000 signatures, the number needed to qualify for the ballot and to get it in front of the legislature is 340,000. That's a margin that have only 10%. And my experience with petition drives is that's not enough. Typically, a petition drive needs a pad of at least 25% because of errors made by circulators people who signed the petition who don't live in the county that's on the petition, duplicate signatures, etc. I know with voters, not politicians, we had a better than 90% approval rate for our signatures. But that was really unusual because it was all volunteers. The typical results if you higher paid circulators is about 70% of the signatures are valid. So you can be assured that these signatures are going to be challenged before they go to the legislature.

Christine Barry 23:17
Yet Planned Parenthood said they were going to challenge it more vigorously because the margin was so small.

Walt Sorg 23:25
I will be willing to bet right now just based on the numbers that this is not going to this is not going to cut it. One last note, Governor Whitmer is vetoed legislation which would have prevented the National Resources Commission from regulating deer baiting. I don't hunt deer. I don't really care about the issue. But I love her veto only because Trump loving child molester and has been rock star Ted Nugent came back to his home state to testify in favor of the bill. He's a total jerk. And if the governor vetoed a bill he likes I'm happy.

Christine Barry 23:54
baiting deer can increase disease among deer. Deer baiting as a policy depends on where you're at. In some areas feeding deer will actually help the deer through a stressful season. And in other areas like ours, it would lead to more disease. So I think it was good that it, you know that she vetoed that bill.

Walt Sorg 24:18
And that is it for the Policast for 2019. We're taking next week off for the holidays. We'll be back in January as we gear up for the 2020 campaign. For more information on this week's topics, head on over to our website, Michigan Policast. com for links, tweets, videos, memes, mantras, and musings.

Christine Barry 24:36
And feel free to send us your ideas criticism rants via Google email machine at, or you can reach the Michigan podcast on Facebook and Twitter. We have those links on our website as well.

Walt Sorg 24:50
Have a wonderful holiday season whether you celebrate Christmas Hanukkah Kwanzaa, or just like hanging out with Santa's helpers are you just like eggnog? See you in 2020

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