Protests, Trump, and elections. Whitmer affirms right to literacy with lawsuit settlement.

May 18, 2020

Michigan Policast for Monday, May 18, 2020

  In this episode:

  • The COVID rally's soggy sequel
  • Trump's weak pandemic response
  • Trouble ahead for Michigan's budget
  • Governor Whitmer settles the right to literacy case
  • Elections, elections
  • Transcript


Jump to:

The COVID rally's soggy sequel

Trump's weak pandemic response

omg these comments

Trouble ahead for Michigan's budget

Governor Whitmer settles the right to literacy case


Elections, elections




Walt Sorg  00:00

The presenting underwriter of the Michigan Policast is Progress Michigan providing a strong credible voice that holds public officials and government accountable and assists in the promotion of progressive ideas.


Barack Obama  00:16

More than anything, this pandemic is fully finally torn back the curtain on the idea that so many of the folks in charge, know what they're doing. A lot of them aren't even pretending to be in charge.


Dr Richard Bright  00:28

Our window of opportunity is closing. If we fail to improve our response Now, based on science, I fear the pandemic will get worse and be prolonged. There will be likely a resurgence of COVID-19 this fall. It'll be greatly compounded by the challenges of seasonal influenza. Without better planning, 2020 could be the darkest winter in modern history.


Walt Sorg  00:52

Dr. Richard Bright and Barack Obama, the two latest victims of the Donald Trump twitter war an attack on science an attack on reality in the name of re-election, it's all about the virus that shapes everything on this week's pod, a pathetic gathering of gun-toting anarchists at the state capitol, complete with Gretchen in a noose and an ax-wielding protester, a state budget crisis of unprecedented depth. Another partisan challenge to the governor's ability to act in an emergency and political campaigns transformed by our new normal. This is the Michigan Policast. We're all about Michigan politics and policy and the national events impacting our pleasant peninsulas. I'm Walt Sorg investigating Obamagate from Lansing.


Christine Barry  01:33

I'm Christine Barry, socially distant all the way out here in Shiawassee County. Education is in the spotlight this week, Walt.  We have the settlement of a lawsuit over the right to literacy, we're looking at plummeting budgets all across the state and Michigan democrats are emphasizing the Betsy DeVos agenda as a core campaign issue. But first, we begin this episode with still another gathering of gun-toting, mask-free, spelling-challenged, feeble-minded protesters.


Walt Sorg  02:03

I gotta tell you Christine, I never enjoyed a thunderstorm more than I did last week is that protest that anemic protests was gathering on the steps of the Capitol a couple hundred people at best. It was one part, a media event. It was one part of Trump campaign rally in one part a second amendment party. Mother Nature did weigh in with a downpour, which helped turn this latest anti-Whitmer event into a soggy sequel to the original. Approximately 10 million Michiganders did not attend the rally. Representative Elissa Slotkin whose district includes the Capitol Building responded to the gathering of the fringe element in her own non-partisan, non-judgmental way. She contrasted it with a neighbor who doesn't like the governor's executive orders, but also understands the difference between political disagreements and calls for anarchy.


Elissa Slotkin  02:49

She's a woman named Jan she was writing me to tell me her story that her 93 year old mother had been alone, unable to see her husband of 73 years that she hadn't been able to see her Her mom had broken some bones gone to surgery. And she wanted me to know that she didn't agree with our Governor's policies of keeping people out of nursing home. She understood the risk but felt like there was risk and leaving her mom and wanted to talk to me about it. And it just was such a contrast. Because here is someone who doesn't agree, but has empathy and understanding for why the governor may had to make these tough choices. And her way of being brave was to fight like heck to get into see her mom, she finally moved her dad into the same room. And it just felt like such a contrast to the guys who were really conflating a bunch of different issues and coming out and just trying to show a very, very dark side to scare people. And I thought it was a good contrast and that Jan was the one who was brave and those guys are the capital. We're just not,


Walt Sorg  03:48

What a nice way to say it. They just were not. Representative Slotkin put a lot of the responsibility for the unrest squarely on the shoulders of Donald Trump. The messaging from the White House is of course all over the place. Slotkin, there's a witness to the chaos that's being created by the chaos president.


Elissa Slotkin  04:04

And you know, I've been on conference calls with the vice president with people with, obviously, Dr. Fauci and it feels like a healthy normal organization, and then the President will come out and contradict some of the very specific things we talked about in that day. And when it comes to these protesters, you know, he, you know, he, he really elevated them and lifted them up, in contrast to the republicans in my own state. So I think he's doing his own thing. And I don't think it does a service to anyone to have him leading with that approach.


Walt Sorg  04:35

Okay, I'm gonna say something nice about the Republican leadership in the legislature before we totally trashed them on a separate but related issue. They called off a legislative session for last Thursday so that there wouldn't be a stage for these protesters to create the sort of national chaos that they had created it their first rally, they shut the Capitol building as a result. And even though some people attacked them for being cowards and things like that, I think it was it was the right thing to do. Just to give them an opportunity to get more headlines that they deserve.


Christine Barry  05:04

Right. And there was some criticism toward the republicans for creating an environment where people felt empowered to come and protest with such, you know, such anger, such outrage, and then running away from it. But I think it was one of the smartest things that Shirkey has done and Chatfield as well in terms of handling this crisis is to get away from that. So it is a bit subdued. There's like you said, No stage for it, although the media covered it, but fewer people would come, there would not be any reason for anybody to come into the Capitol. And I just think it was a good idea to do that.


Walt Sorg  05:40

Part of this is to is are built around the idea of civil disobedience. People are saying what the governor has done is unconstitutional, which of course, it's constitutional until the courts say it's unconstitutional. they're entitled to their opinion, but until such time as the courts ruled unconstitutional, it is the law of the land and they have to obey it. What these folks seem to be forgetting about civil disobedience There's a penalty to pay a price to pay for civil disobedience. Whether you're Gandhi in India or Martin Luther King in the Birmingham Jail. If you violate the law as it is, you're going to pay a penalty. And the idea that they should pay a penalty has them outraged. They're all upset about this jackass barber in your neighborhood, who continues to basically I think he's a grifter at heart. He's got set up a GoFundMe page to support himself. Now they're going to have a haircut protest on Wednesday at the Capitol where they're going to give away free haircuts. And I gotta tell you, I'm kind of tempted to go. At this point, it's pretty, getting pretty


Christine Barry  06:37

tempted to go and pretend to be someone who can cut hair, Walt, that would be fun. Karl, is I think, exactly what you said he is.


Walt Sorg  06:46

It's a grifter. He's loving the publicity. 77 years old, and this is his 15 minutes of fame and he's just eating it up. He's it's not about the money. It's not about supporting himself. I understand that he's actually pretty well off financially. He's able to support himself. Plus he's got Social Security's getting support as well from the federal government during the chaos. This is about the 15 minutes of fame and being interviewed on CNN, he absolutely loves it. What I don't understand, though, Christine is, in the light of all of the republican protests and the eagerness to reopen, the polling consistently shows Republicans are on the wrong side of public opinion on this issue as well. The President's marks keep going down, down down, which of course explains his Obama gate rants that he's been going with the last few days. But in terms of reopening the economy, the vast majority of people in the state and in this country believe, the too fast is not a very good idea that if anything, they want to slow things down a little bit.


Christine Barry  07:43

Well, and there are some really practical concerns for a lot of people, everyone who's on unemployment, that's going to be, I think, called into question if their business opens back up, and they don't feel safe going back to work. They would rather just wait until they feel safe. And you know, we don't have a lot of information about this, we keep getting more and more information about COVID. But every time you get more information, you also get more questions. So I don't feel like there's a lot of confidence out there about how COVID-19 is moving across the state. I mean, I don't know what do you think?


Walt Sorg  08:21

Well, it's I keep going back to the polling and on how people are viewing the Trump administration's handling of all of those. And the change in emphasis saying that we're back now it's over. We've conquered this, whether it's Mitch McConnell in the senate saying we don't need more stimulus, or the president saying we don't need to continue all of these precautions against the virus. He sees his polling numbers in March according to CBS, he had a 53-47 rating 53% approved 47% saying you did a bad job in the handling of the kernel of the virus. Now it's gone 43% supportive which is basically his base and 57% saying he's doing a bad job. He desperately wants to change the subject from his handling of the pandemic, and their late response and all of that, and he wants to get the economy back. So people are talking about that. And above all, he wants to shift the conversation completely away from the virus and take it back to attacking Barack Obama and attacking Joe Biden claiming they all need to go into jail, and have people talking about that. And he's really good at changing the subject. But he had 150 tweets over the weekend, and the majority of them were about Barack Obama and Joe Biden, and had nothing to do with the pandemic. You would think that from his perspective, the war is over. When the reality is it's just begun.


Christine Barry  09:40

He didn't have an answer for it. If Trump doesn't have an answer for something, then he's got to shift the conversation to Obamagate or super-duper missiles or something ridiculous that his base can clench their teeth into, you know, so


Walt Sorg  09:59

the only thing on the politics Next, what if the doctors and the scientists are correct and we have a second wave in the autumn just before the election, who is going to be blamed for that, given the postures politically of the republicans and the democrats on reopening the economy and scaling back on the social distancing? Who's gonna take the blame for that? Who's going to take the electoral hit? It's going to be the Republicans. And yet they're gambling, that the scientists are all wrong. I don't think to me, it just doesn't make sense.


Christine Barry  10:29

It doesn't. There is a real opportunity for leadership here. I don't think that Donald Trump was up to that. Is that fit for office in my opinion, but he could have put someone competent in charge of it. And let it be Dr. Fauci I mean, whoever you want to be the face of the administration's response to this, and let that person do the right thing. And Trump would have gotten credit for that.


Walt Sorg  10:55

As it is the administration's incredibly slow and inept response to the pandemic will be the issue in the fall campaign, whether they want it to be or not. And that was made really clear in a conference call that was staged by the county Democratic Party over the last few days in which both the United States senators from Michigan talked about what's going on in the country and specifically about the Trump administration's response to the pandemic.


Gary Peters  11:18

President waited and we wasted a lot of time that we needed to prepare for this crisis and that we that time that was squandered means we're dealing with an even more difficult situation, it would have been difficult regardless. But this is even more difficult with that


Debbie Stabenow  11:32

January 20, was the first known case in the United States of COVID-19. January 20, was the first known case in South Korea same day, within eight weeks after that South Korea was testing 40 times more people per million than we were in this country. And by April 14, they had 10,000 cases we had 630,000. Now we have over 1.3 Now again, and when you look at it about 30% of the world's cases of COVID-19. I mean, the United States it were about 4% of the population.


Walt Sorg  12:10

Meanwhile, on Friday, you had a court hearing in front of the court of claims and judge Cynthia Stevens, on whether the governor's actions were in fact constitutional. Or and you had the situation with the legislature basically arguing that a law passed by the legislature was unconstitutional. My guess is that they're going to lose, Judge Stevens is going to rule against the republicans in favor of the governor. It's going to go through the full court of appeals, it's gonna go to the Supreme Court, and sometime in the next six months of the Supreme Court is going to vote for three or five two in favor of the governor. How's that for a big prediction?


Christine Barry  12:44

Well, I agree, but I don't you know, I have to say that I don't actually know anything thing. So but I do think that's what's going to happen and I don't think it's going to matter as much by the time it gets through this but you know, while that's As long as this continues this fighting between the legislature and the governor, people are going to feel empowered that their opinion is equivalent to the governor's opinion. And that is not the case. And you were talking about civil disobedience earlier and how people get angry that they have a, you know that there's a consequence for it. Now, you know, it's different from like the 60s when you had civil disobedience and people went to jail and in paddy wagons or whatever. Now you have civil disobedience, and people just pull out their guns and say tyranny. You can't do anything to me because I'm an oathkeeper, or something like that. And I think what the republicans are doing, and especially, you know, they're, they're empowered by or enabled by Trump as well, is they're making people these individuals feel like their opinions about things are equivalent to the governor's opinion, or more important than the governor's opinion, which means that, you know, we had as many different opinions As we have people, which means that my opinion is I'm not going to get the virus My opinion is I can go cut hair My opinion is I can get a haircut doesn't matter what you think about COVID because my opinion is my immune system can take it. And so it goes on and on. And meanwhile, six months go by and we're dealing with lawsuits and, and politics and more people are getting sick and dying, and we're not doing the real work of Michigan. We should be looking at how we're going to recover from this in terms of our budget. I think it was. Christine Greig said, was it last week or the week before we should be in committee dealing with the appropriations looking at how we're going to deal with this budget crisis coming up? We're not going to be doing that work because we are going to be doing lawsuits and arguing over who has the right opinion about the virus.


Walt Sorg  14:50

Okay, terms of opinions too. Just for giggles. I checked out the Facebook reactions to all the live streams that the governor has been doing all of our news conferences that she's had are live-streamed. On Facebook on the Michigan State Police page, and then that feed is picked up by a lot of other pages as well. I couldn't count up the reactions on all of them. So I used the Michigan State Police page plus the to Lansing area TV stations, which gives you a lot of responses. You get a lot of those likes, loves, and angry spots. And amazingly enough, when I coded it all up, the numbers pretty much match the public opinion polling statewide 68% on average of people watching those live streams on those three Facebook pages, liked or loved what the governor was saying and doing. And 32% were angry. And that's about what the public opinion polling is showing give or take. It's not a scientific sampling, but it's an awful lot of people. But I think it shows that the majority of the state is clearly behind the governor. It's the minority that's getting all the headlines, in part because they bring their long guns to the Capitol, and in part because they act like total jackass as opposed to a very good manipul In the media, but the reality is the state is behind governor Whitmer and what she's doing, and I hope that's giving her strength to continue to do what she thinks is the right thing.


Christine Barry  16:09

Yeah, I agree.


Walt Sorg  16:11

There's a really interesting article that Jonathan Oosting and Ted Roelofs wrote for Bridge Magazine online. That says that anti-vaccination activists already warring with Governor mandates have emerged as key players in the battle against governor Whitmer stay at home mortar designed to slow the spread of the deadly Coronavirus. that's, to me, that's the wingnuts portion of the Facebook world in the internet world. But they're the ones that are driving a lot of the conversation. People should take a look at this article. Like I say we do have a link for it in our show notes on our website.  One other thing that is really concerning to me is the Trump administration has made it very clear that they are willing to take every part of the federal government and turn it into a part of the Trump campaign. They've now fired four inspectors general they've totally ignored oversight by Congress. By just basically say, we're not going to respond to any subpoenas. We're not giving you any information. And now they're beginning to question the science. And to me bending science to fit a political agenda is about the most dangerous thing that they could be doing. But that's what they're going to do. And I think what we're going to, we're going to find down the road that Trump is going to proclaim that yes, we have a vaccine that works. It's going to be out in the field in two months. So there's going to be total bullshit, he's going to proclaim that it's just as he's proclaimed now that we've already won the war, when in fact, the war is just beginning. He's going to take that science, he's going to completely twist it around anybody who disagrees with him, like Dr. Bright is going to be pushed out the door. It's just a matter of time, I think until our good friend, Dr. Fauci, is pushed out the door, as well as at least muzzled and they're going to pervert the science and there's enough of the people who believe everything Donald Trump says that they're going to accept it and it's just going to continue the division of this country, but it's also going to lead as a real, real, real serious problem. problems in the fall during a second wave.


Christine Barry  18:02

And this isn't new, right? I mean, if you look at topics like evolution, climate change stem cell, environmental issues, clean air and clean water, vaccines, all of the things when conservatives can't change the meaning of a result, they just change the input. They change what you can and can't measure. They change the way that the public sees something by either completely rewriting reports changing. science isn't new.


Walt Sorg  18:31

there's already reports that the President wants to take the numbers of people that are dying and ill and he wants those massaged to make him look better. Or in some states, they're not even reporting them anymore, because it's so bad and politically, it's bad for the Republican Party.


Christine Barry  18:50

The pandemic has brought Michigan unemployment to record levels more than 820,000 people are now collecting unemployment benefits with another 350,000 claims. As for unemployment benefits pending, state revenues are plummeting.


Walt Sorg  19:04

The revenue consensus estimate report was issued on Friday. That's basically a bunch of state bean counters who try to figure out how much money is coming in and how much is going out. And their report shows that they agree that there's about a $3.2 billion deficit in the current budget year, and another $3 billion shortage in the new fiscal year that begins in October. To put that into perspective, that's a 17% shortage in the budget for general government operations, and a nearly 9% shortage in the K 12 budget. And Michigan story is being duplicated state by state. state budget director Chris Kolb said that if we wiped out the 12 smallest state departments completely, including the courts and the legislature, it wouldn't even eliminate the deficit or would only be $2 billion out of the $3.2 billion if we eliminated 12 state departments. The governor says this is not an issue that the state can solve on its own nor can any state solve it on its own right now.


Gretchen Whitmer  19:59

During This crisis we have seen, you know that COVID-19 does not stop at party line, it doesn't stop at state line. And so as I've talked to my fellow governors across the country, Republican and Democratic, we are all in this same predicament. And that's precisely why it's so important that Congress take some action and give us some help. And that's what we're asking for. And that's what I am hopeful that Republicans in our state legislature will pick up the phone and call their congressional members. They will pick up the phone and call the White House and implore them to move the relief that has been started in the house doesn't have to look exactly like what was introduced, but we need assistance.


Walt Sorg  20:39

This is a real mess. The governor is basically laying off most of state government on a temporary basis. When I was working for the legislature back in the 70s. We had a similar situation where people basically were given a 10% pay cut, or layoffs was the choice I don't want in the legislature. We took a staff vote and we were told we could either lay off 10% of our employees or Each one of you can take one layoff day per pay period every other week. And that'll be your pay cut. And we went for the ladder so that none of our colleagues would be laid off, but we'd all suffer just a little bit. But that was nothing compared to what we're going through now.


Christine Barry  21:14

Well, in Washington House Democrats passed a new stimulus bill, which includes 1 trillion is support for state governments, along with additional direct payments to taxpayers, and funding for vote by mail in November. Republicans for now say there's no appetite for more spending. And Ohio's Tim Ryan responded,


Tim Ryan  21:35

I've got to tell you, this is absolutely unbelievable. Just a few years ago, the stock market's at 25,000 corporate profits are the highest they've been in decades. The rich keep getting richer, and our friends on the other side said what do we do now? Let's do a tax cut, where 83% of it goes to the top 1% of the wealthiest people. Fast forward a few months go pandemic 36 million people unemployed. 40% of families who have a worker that makes $40,000 a year or less lose their job last month, 4 million people didn't pay their rent in the Republican Party said, we don't have any money. Are you kidding me? Where do you guys live? Food lines around the blocks at our food banks in the United States of America. One in five kids are going hungry. Your party can't even get food to them. This isn't a wish list. If it's a wish list, it's for the working-class people. How about the Teamsters that are going to get a pension when this bill passed, their pension gets cut


Walt Sorg  22:51

Yeah, The gentleman's time has expired. I think our time has expired. Quite honestly. God bless Tim Ryan for raising that very valid point. There's always money to cut taxes for the rich people, there's always money to fund the Pentagon budget. But when it comes to feeding people and feeding kids and funding firefighters and funding teachers, we haven't got the money to do that. And now of course, they always are talking about cutting social security and medicare.


Christine Barry  23:17

I don't even know what to say anymore to those things that, you know, they're talking openly about. We don't want to bail out the blue states. You know, this is childish. Republicans are openly just doing their thing. I mean, it's not even, you know, I gotta tell you, well, at least they used to try to pretend that they weren't just for rich people. But now they're just openly flouting it.


Walt Sorg  23:40

So Mitch McConnell is saying, hey, we've won, we've won. The war is over. We've solved the economic issues with this country. We don't there's no urgency he says to pass another stimulus bill at this point because we don't need to. It's all over. We've taken care of the problem of the President's attitude is the same that the build the house passes DOA in the Senate, and it probably But at least it's the beginning of negotiations, hopefully, on getting something seen done, including protecting our election in November. I think that's a big part of what's at the bottom of all of this. The President really doesn't want to have a fair election in November because he knows he'll lose. He wants his Russian buddies to continue to pipe in he wants to make sure that his people get out to vote, but anything that's going to help democrats turn out the vote or have a fair election or make sure that everybody has the opportunity to vote. They certainly are not interested in that. It's massive voter suppression. You've got that idiot Eric Trump going on TV over the weekend, and say that this is all a Democratic conspiracy to keep the country shut down so that his father can have his political rallies.


Christine Barry  24:42

That's the kind of thing that's exactly the kind of thing that gets those death threats going against the Gretchen Whitmers and the Dana Nessels and all the other people out there receiving death threats, because people like Eric Trump saying it's a conspiracy, stupid people who also happen to be suffering from this are now thinking, well, they're taking food off my table, I have a right to protect myself. And so they go out there and they make threats because they don't, they don't think right.


Walt Sorg  25:11

And it's gonna get worse too. I was talking with a friend of mine who owns a local restaurant, they serve Texas barbecue, that's their menu. And he was telling me that his cost for buying brisket to prepare and serve in his restaurants gone from $1 75 a pound to $9 and 50 cents a pound. And when he puts it in an order, he can't even get it filled. That's how bad some of the food chain has become. And that's going to just make exacerbate the challenges even more between the haves and the have nots. I feel almost guilty because I'm not suffering at all other than being stuck in my house from this crisis. Economically, it's having no impact on me. And it's not really impacting my life a lot, although I'm watching too much television and way too much cable news. But other than that my life goes on as normal. But for so many people, there's so much suffering and they're going to lash out and what the President I think is trying to do and the republicans are trying to do is figure out a way to blame all of this on the on the party that's not in control the democrats and blame it on Barack Obama and blame it on Joe Biden, and blame it on Nancy Pelosi and everybody else that they can think of blame it on the Chinese, so that people take out their wrath on them, rather than on the people who are actually in charge.


Christine Barry  26:21

You know, and I have two things to say, in response to what you just said there. First of all, you mentioned, you know, you feel kind of kind of bad, that are kind of guilty for not suffering as much as other people, although, obviously, we're grateful we aren't, but suffering is different for everybody. Some people like my cousin suffered in a very real way. He was already like, you know, living in near poverty conditions, then his job goes away. And he ends up in a shelter. So and he's he's starting to get back on his feet. Now. It isn't that it's ongoing, but his suffering was very real in that way. You and I talked about what we were going through Last week, and you are, you are certainly suffering in your own unique way. And even though I'm not suffering economically, I'm, I've got my own challenges here. You know, I couldn't go to my father in law's funeral, I couldn't go to my aunt's funeral. And those things are with me every day and people who are on unemployment and struggling to pay rent, look at that and say, well, that's no big deal. Well, it's a big deal to me. I mean, it's it is people suffer in different ways. And so I kind of wanted to acknowledge that because it isn't just economic suffering that's going on right now. It's psychological as well and emotional. So there's, there's that But the second thing I wanted to bring up, and it was just probably more on topic for the podcast is like, what is the point of having a federal government? If it's the states are all on their own? You know, if your federal government is telling you, Hey, you got to handle this sort of, you know, we don't have a stimulus to help you with this pandemic. Then what is the point? You know, a state doesn't go off and fight a war on its own. If This Is War against this pandemic, the federal government is supposed to be there to help us. So what is the point of being the United States of America? If the federal government is not going to play its role?


Walt Sorg  28:12

One thing that I wonder about is whether they're going to be any prominent Republicans who are still a part of the elected establishment coming out against Donald Trump's reelection. Mitt Romney seems to be edging in that direction. He's been calling out the President on several issues over the last few days, including the firing of the State Department Inspector General, as well as the anemic testing program that is that is underway that has nothing to brag about. Mike DeWine in Ohio, has basically told the president i'm not buying your baloney when it comes to easing the restrictions on our society. I'm going to maintain pretty strict social distancing in my state, even though they've given up on it now in Indiana, and they're giving up in in a lot of Republican states as well or any of these people going to join With the Lincoln project of former prominent republicans in calling out for the defeat of Donald Trump, especially given the fact that it's relatively easy for them, philosophically, to go along with Joe Biden, they like Joe Biden, if it was Bernie Sanders, I wouldn't even think about it. Because Bernie Sanders is not somebody a Mitt Romney could support. But I could see a Mitt Romney or Mike dewine saying, Look at the better alternative is Joe Biden.


Christine Barry  29:24

And I don't know that they hook up with something like the Lincoln Project, but I do think that maybe not so much, Mike DeWine. But I do think that someone like Mitt Romney does come from a place of relative comfort, if he wasn't reelected, that how much does that really hurt him? You know, and I would say the same. Same thing about susan collins if she would do anything that required courage, but she doesn't


Walt Sorg  29:48

know she did. College is out of the question. She's just Yeah, she's panders wherever you think it's gonna be appropriate. When I look when I look at Mitt Romney, I knew his parents fairly well when I started as a young reporter at the Capitol his father was the governor of Michigan, and his mother went on to become the us senate candidate. And they were people who lead with their morality and their sense of what is right, rather than their sense of what is politically expedient. And I think a lot of that has rubbed off on me, even though I disagree with him on a lot of issues. There's no question that he's an oligarch. But at the same time, I think deep down there's a there's a moral core to him that is totally missing in this administration.


Christine Barry  30:25

I think that that moral core that he does have was just kind of hidden when he ran for president, you could tell in his campaign for the presidency, that he was saying things and doing things that were just not Mitt Romney at all that Mitt Romney we knew in the Mitt Romney that you see now is completely different. Some of the things that he said while he was running for president,


Walt Sorg  30:46

It's almost like he's been liberated.


Christine Barry  30:49

Yeah, maybe like I said, He's in a place of relative comfort, a place of relative privilege. And I don't know if you know, the politics in his his state, but I if he doesn't get elected again. So what


Walt Sorg  31:01

do you got to remember in the 2016 election, Donald Trump I think only got about 35% of the vote in Utah. But it was a three way split. With the independent candidate picking up a whole bunch of votes. Trump's not overly popular in Utah. Almost lost in the turmoil created by this COVID-19 virus pandemic major developments in public education. A lawsuit originally filed against Governor Snyder, regarding poor education for Detroit students was settled by the Whitmer administration over the week. Christine, you're our official expert on k 12. Education is a member of your local school board and somebody who deals with these issues on a weekly basis. What's the significance of the ruling in the Detroit right to literacy case of the settlement they achieved?


Christine Barry  31:48

Well, this is amazing. And first of all, let me start by saying I am not an expert by any means.


Walt Sorg  31:53

Well, compared to me, you're a genius on the subject.


Christine Barry  31:56

Okay, well, I'll think I'll think that first of all, let's point out the The focus of the settlement is on Detroit because obviously Detroit students were the plaintiffs. And the ruling was about Detroit. But the three judge panel in the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals said that there was a fundamental but limited right to a basic minimum education, and that the students had standing to sue the state for alleged violations of that right.  On May 7, the republicans Well, the legislature, but the republicans are in control. But the legislature in Michigan asked that the full Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals rehear that case, because they believe it is too important of a case to leave to a three member panel to decide. And the court has not answered that yet. So it's possible that the complete Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals would rehear that case. Since the legislature has filed that request. The governor went ahead and settled this lawsuit. The plaintiffs are dropping it and releasing all the defendants of any claims right now, what's in the settlement? That's really interesting stuff. And I'm only going to talk about a handful of things because there's there's a lot there. But the really straightforward stuff had, let's start with the money $280,000 to be shared among the seven student plaintiffs, and that's to help them access, you know, further their education. The next piece 2.72 million goes to Detroit Public Schools community district on various literacy related programs. The governor agreed to propose legislation that would provide Detroit Public Schools with a minimum of $94.4 million of funding for literacy related programs and initiatives. Now, that's just to be proposed sometime in her first term. That's her agreement. But of course, it's a funding proposal. So it's up to the legislature to respond to that request.


Walt Sorg  34:02

Yeah given the budget situation, we got right down to how isn't that a kind of a hollow gesture?


Christine Barry  34:06

I mean, how is this going to happen, you know, and then the final piece and, you know, we'll have links to all of this, he can get more details. But the final piece here is some initiatives and Task Force work that the governor is going to support. There'll be two task forces that will be conducting evaluations and make state level recommendations. So Detroit will, I believe have more input on how literacy is treated in the schools? I think. So. Like I said, the plaintiffs went ahead and said all claims are resolved. They released all claims against all defendants, which wasn't just the governor. It also included the Department of Education, the state superintendent, State Board of Ed, and the settlement doesn't have to be approved in court by the legislature. However, since the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals hasn't answered yet, it's still possible that it will go before them.


Walt Sorg  34:59

It's sort of like the money Michael Flynn case the defendant has pled guilty. And now somebody is going to be going to court to overturn the plea.


Christine Barry  35:06

It's interesting. Well, in the implications of this, obviously, like I said, it's focused on Detroit, but the implications are statewide and nationwide as well. There are 10 attorneys general that joined in an advocacy brief asking the full court to hear the case. There are other literacy cases across the country that may also be helped by this ruling. So it's going to be interesting, it's gonna be a lot of hard work for the state of Michigan, the governor, the legislature, the MDE, technology and budget, all of the entities that touch education are going to have to figure out how to make this happen and how to comply with this. So this is going to be hard. And, you know, I was thinking about this and I kind of compare it to the right to vote. We have the right to vote, it's illegal to have a poll tax and yet, all the states are still struggling with voter suppression and de facto poll taxes. And I think it's is going to be like that for many, many years if this right to literacy goes nationwide.


Walt Sorg  36:05

Meanwhile, on the political front, Democrats are signaling that public education is going to be the second major issue with maybe the third major issue after healthcare in the pandemic response. But the issues in the November election, Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez joined electronically with Michigan education and local leaders for a conference call to call out the face of the Trump administration's education policy. Somebody we know all too well. Our beloved right wing billionaire Betsy DeVos


Tom Perez  36:33

Michiganders know all about Betsy DeVos. She honed her skills attacking public education here in Michigan, and that's what she's done across the country. As the education secretary. We need a public we need an education secretary that actually believes in public education and Betsy DeVos has undermined public education. DeVos gave the green light as Trump proposed billions of budget cuts. to public education to public schools that 90% of the American students attend. She's tried to slash teacher training programs and student loan forgiveness programs. She's removed protections for survivors trying to seek justice on campuses with a rule change to title nine, that would lead to fewer allegations being considered sexual assault.


Walt Sorg  37:23

It's going to be interesting to watch the contrast is democrats campaign against Betsy DeVos. In one of their primary spokespersons is Dr. Jill Biden, who's a teacher,


Christine Barry  37:31

Betsy DeVos is like that babysitter that hates children. Why? Why? You know, you would never hire that person in unless you were anti child. And that's what I that's what putting Betsy DeVos in that position was. She represents a fundamental shift in education, philosophy in this country, that it should not be public education, it should be privatized in all ways possible. And, you know, students don't have nearly as many rights.


Walt Sorg  38:03

It is sort of like what republicans were trying to do for years with Nancy Pelosi use her as the symbol of San Francisco liberals, and everything that was wrong with liberals and the Democratic Party. And it was successful to an extent. And now the tables are being turned. And Betsy DeVos is going to be the symbol of all that is wrong with the right wing politics when it comes to education. And I think they've got somebody who's really easy to get


Christine Barry  38:30

well, because it's true.


Walt Sorg  38:32

They've got a dozen yachts parked around the world, who better to pick on than somebody who lives so large and who flaunts her wealth so much and is so anti public education. It's gonna be a lot of fun to watch


Christine Barry  38:44

and use that wealth to fund other people to pursue the DeVos family's own agenda on public education. I mean, she has influenced public education very much before she ever got into that office. So it's very appropriate that


Walt Sorg  39:02

she owns the Michigan State Senate. They purchased it. It's now a subsidiary of Amway. Time for some campaign notes, Republicans continue to show little interest in the redrawing of Michigan's congressional and legislative districts. Nearly 5600 people have applied to be a part of the 13 member independent citizens commission for redistricting. Only 15% of them though identify as Republicans compared with 35% who are Democrats and fully one half saying that they are independence. Some of the other demographic trends of the people who have applied so far 84% are white, and a total of just 10% are African American or black. Gender is more men than women 58% than 42%. In terms of age, it is predominantly seniors 68% 55 years or older. of the total application. pool. Now the constitutional amendment requires the Secretary of State to adjust the pool from which the random drawing is held. So that is more demographically representative of the state of Michigan. So if you're a young black Republican, you get a really good shot at being on this commission. The ultimate commission will have four Democrats, four Republicans, and five are not aligned with either party. And the deadline for applying is at the end of this month. All it takes is filling out a form having it notarized and shipping it off to the Secretary of State.


Christine Barry  40:29

I'm really looking forward to seeing this play out. I you know, as I looked at these numbers, I thought, well, there are some things that makes me question how this is like a 50% identify as Republicans and one half say their independence, but how do you really know what the independence are? Did they leave the republican party because they got too weird for him or whatever, doesn't really matter. It's just things that make me think the demographics that you just talked about 55 or older, that makes sense to me because people 55 are They're not only presumably have the time to do the work, but they also have presumably a lot of experience watching how gerrymandering played out


Walt Sorg  41:08

In terms of the political identification. I've talked a lot with the California commissioners who had been in Michigan a couple of times, and what they tell me and I hear it from all sides on the California commission, that once the process starts, the partisan politics really goes out the door because they are so independent from the core political processes in the state. They're not professional politicians, that once they get going, they're just citizens of their state, and they work together pretty well.


Christine Barry  41:34

That doesn't surprise me because that, to me actually feels a lot like the Board of Education. We all know how we identify but it's it's not a partisan seat by any means. But when you get there to do the work, it's a small group of people, you know what your objective is, you're there to just do a good job.


Walt Sorg  41:51

Let's move on to the Senate race, if we will, Christine.


Christine Barry  41:54

Senator Gary Peters is getting ahead of the republicans on one issue, China The GOP playbook is to divert attention from the Trump mismanagement of the pandemic response with classic misdirection, all the fault of China. So Peters is on the air taking away their issue.


Gary Peters  42:12

I'm Gary Peters. As we keep our loved ones safe. It's important that we plan for reopening in a way that puts Michigan first. It also means being honest about China. I've always been tough on the Chinese government supporting the China travel ban, demanding the truth about the spread of COVID-19. And I'm fighting to take back production of life saving drugs and medical supplies from China, so we'll never be held hostage. I approve this message because Made in America has always worked for Michigan.


Walt Sorg  42:43

Meanwhile, Peters alleged opponent republican john James continues to hide from the media. He emerged briefly for an interview on the Sinclair TV station in Kalamazoo about a week and a half ago, and then resumed his no interviews, no substance give me money campaign. He has had nine In the last week, according to the democrats that are tracking him, he did have one closed door meeting getting caught trying to have it both ways. He says he's against Trump on a regular basis, but then in public, he is 2,000%. Behind Trump. He had that one interview and he's had zero answers when it comes to health care. James, who now proclaims he's totally independent from Trump is promoting an online fundraiser. Well, he'll be joined by the always lovable Donald Trump Jr. On Monday. The tickets are $100 $2,000 to spend some time on the internet with the two levels the event is close to the media Of course, you know it maybe if we go we could find out what the hell Obamacare is and why Jr's Daddy wants to put Obama Biden Comey Clapper Sasha and Malia into prison for the worst political crimes in history, which is so far been unable to identify.


Christine Barry  43:51

Oh my goodness.


Walt Sorg  43:52

Instead, the public posture of the James campaign continues to be


Christine Barry  44:07

Justin Amash announced on Twitter that he's dropping his campaign for president on the libertarian ticket,


Walt Sorg  44:13

he finally came to the conclusion that he can't win. You just figured that out. Now, Justin, you're never going to be able to win, but he finally decided he couldn't. What I find intriguing is that there's no indication that he's going to get back into the congressional race for his own seat over in the Grand Rapids area. The other thing I found really entertaining is the national political pundits were saying that him dropping out and not running for president is going to help President Trump and others saying it's going to help Joe Biden. In other words, nobody had a clue what this meant for the presidential campaign. I was talking with Bernie Porn over at EPIC MRA Polling and they were getting ready to do a poll that was going to test Michigan as a three way state, as well as a two way race for President. I guess that's probably out the window now. Amash getting out. I'm really curious to see what his next step is because If he's not running for Congress, and he's not running for president, I can't believe he's going to disappear because the guy really is he just loves the attention. Where will he go next gonna run for governor against Whitmer in a couple of years.


Christine Barry  45:11

Maybe there's something in the private sector for him if he doesn't want to run for Congress. Again. I guess I didn't realize he completely dropped out of that congressional race.


Walt Sorg  45:19

Well, he indicated earlier .. It's kind of been kind of vague so far, but the stories that I've seen in the news and the Free Press, especially say that he has not indicated any desire to reactivate his congressional campaign, but he has until July, to decide whether or not to run as a third party candidate or an independent for Congress.


Christine Barry  45:39

What I found surprising was that it sounds like he thought there was a path to the presidency for libertarians,


Walt Sorg  45:47

like we were saying last week, it's delusional. There's no path for a third party campaign in this country. The most you can accomplish with a third party campaign is to throw the whole election into the House of Representatives because the Constitution requires that the President be elected with a majority of the electoral college. And if you're successful as a third party candidate, and actually win some electoral votes, you're never going to get 272. But it is possible that you'll get enough so that neither of the major party candidates gets 272. And if it goes to the House of Representatives, each state gets one vote for president, which means that Wyoming with 600,000 residents has the same cloud as California with 35 million because of the way that the Congress is apportioned and the way the states are apportioned. Donald Trump would be in for a second term, because Republicans control enough small states so that he can be successful.


Christine Barry  46:37

You know, one of the really interesting things is that I think Justin could have done a lot for libertarians down ticket, and that was obviously not his interest at all. I never once believed that he thought he could be President. I see that his Twitter thread about why he was dropping the campaign was all about third parties, and there not being a viable path to the presidency but I really thought that the reason he was jumping into the presidential race in the first place was to raise awareness on issues to raise the to elevate the profile of libertarians and you know, to talk about the Constitution. I'm just shocked that he didn't stay in just for those reasons.  Well, that's it for this week's Michigan Policast. For more information on today's subjects, head on over to our website,


Walt Sorg  47:31

As always, we welcome your comments. Email us at or reach out through the Michigan Policast page on Facebook for that headquarters for rants and raves known as Twitter, please nothing in all caps.


Christine Barry  47:43

And thanks for sharing part of your day with us. I mean, what else did you have to do anyway? We'll be back in a week. See ya.

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