Michigan terrorists, elections, COVID, VP debate. Guests Christine Greig and Riley Beggin

October 12, 2020

Michigan Policast for Monday, October 12, 2020

  In this episode:


  • Michigan terrorists' plot to kill Governor Whitmer
  • Riley Beggin of Bridge Magazine on safety in Lansing, voter suppression
  • Christine Greig on the threat to the legislators and banning guns in the Capitol
  • Debbie Stabenow, Dan Kildee on the work environment at the US Congress
  • VP Debate and Election 2020
  • Political notes
  • Attack ad of the week
  • Transcript



Jump to:

Michigan terrorists' plot to kill Governor Whitmer



John James promises to defend the US against all enemies, foreign and Democratic:













Riley Beggin of Bridge Magazine on safety in Lansing, voter suppression









Christine Greig on the threat to the legislators and banning guns in the Capitol











Debbie Stabenow, Dan Kildee on the work environment at the US Congress


.@SenateDems have taken #COVID19 very differently than Sen GOP. We stopped meeting in person at the end of March, we switched from in-person meetings to phone calls. We've been very careful to protect our staff. ~@SenStabenowClick To Tweet
I don't know what it is - some false sense of manhood by not wearing a mask and flaunting that. Of course, it's not an expression of virility or manhood. It's an expression of their complete and abject ignorance. ~@RepDanKildee #COVID19 #MASKUPClick To Tweet

VP Debate and Election 2020





Political notes



“Everything we've looked at here in Utah suggests its gone from the humans to the animals,” Taylor told CNN. “It feels like a unidirectional path,” he said, adding that testing is still underway. Utah's was the first outbreak among mink in the United States. ~Source


A study investigating SARS-CoV-2 infections across 16 mink farms in the Netherlands, being presented at the ESCMID Conference on Coronavirus Disease (ECCVID, held online from 23-25 September) shows that the virus likely jumped between people and mink and back, providing strong evidence that animal to human (zoonotic) transmission is possible. ~Source


People with COVID-19 can spread the virus to animals during close contact. It is important for people with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 to avoid contact with pets and other animals to protect them from possible infection. ~Source



Segment seven: Attack ad of the week

Runner up: Republican Voters Against Trump – General Michael Hayden: If Trump Gets Another Term…


Winner: The Lincoln Project – Stand By





Walt Sorg  00:00

The presenting underwriter of the Michigan Policast is progress Michigan providing a strong, credible voice that holds public officials and governments accountable and assist in the promotion of progressive ideas.


Gretchen Whitmer  00:13

Earlier today, Attorney General Dana Nessel was joined by officials from the Department of Justice and the FBI to announce state and federal charges against 13 members of two militia groups for preparing to kidnap and possibly kill me.


Gretchen Whitmer  00:28

Stand back and stand by he told them stand back and stand by hate groups heard the President's words not as a review, but as a rallying cry as a call to action. When our leaders speak, their words matter, they carry weight. When our leaders meet with encourage or fraternize with domestic terrorists, they legitimize their actions, and they are complicit when they Stoke and contribute to hate speech. They are complicit


Walt Sorg  01:00

I know it doesn't sound like it at times, but we actually planned for this podcast in advance. And going into this week, we figured the big stories were going to be the vice presidential debate in the battle between the governor and the legislature over emergency responses to the covid 19 pandemic. And then came that.  This is the Michigan Policast, where we always practice social distancing and wear our masks. We're all about Michigan policy and politics and the national currents impacting our pleasant peninsulas. I'm Walt sorg.


Christine Barry  01:30

I'm Christine Barry, will focus on the plot to overthrow state government. And we will talk with House Democratic Leader Christine Greig and Capitol reporter, Riley Beggin. About the incredible revelations of the last few days later in the pod, we'll get into some of the other news of the day including the vice presidential debate, which featured a lot of mansplaining by Mike Pence.


Kamala Harris  01:53

Mr. Vice President, I'm speaking, I'm speaking, if you don't mind letting me finish. We can have a conversation. Okay,  please. Okay.


Christine Barry  02:01

Veteran speak out on behalf of one of their own Gary Peters, and the nation's newest COVID hotspot, the US Capitol and the White House. And Walt, in a normal week, these would all be big stories. We're less than a month from the presidential election. But it's not a normal week.


Walt Sorg  02:20

Oh, good lord. No. You know, Chrissy and I live four miles from the Capitol Building. working inside are dozens of my friends, legislators, staff, a governor who happened to be my state representative and state senator for 14 years, whose father was one of my old golf buddies. I worked in that building for more than 20 years, and never felt personally at physical risk during that time. And I'm still, you know, we're a week out and I'm still working on processing the events of the last few days. This has been brewing for a while though, the temperature of the rhetoric has been climbing almost since the beginning of the pandemic. And it was really a pair of Capitol protests during the pandemic sponsored by assault, rifle toting pretend soldiers that lit the fuse for all of this. Attorney General Dana Nessel talked about it,


Dana Nessel  03:05

I would say, absolutely, there are links, those individuals were there. And if you saw any the photographs from that event, you might remember a picture that actually my state senator took, where you see armed gunman who are hovering over the state senate as they are actually in session. Some of those individuals are the same people that were charged in these indictments, that served really is a recruiting station for to to engage membership and to recruit new members.  So absolutely, those events were crucial and pivotal, in terms of them organizing, and then actually having new members join your organization.


Walt Sorg  03:47

As incredible as all of this was even more incredible was the response to the president. He has yet to say anything bad about the people that were plotting to overthrow state government and kidnap and perhaps killed the governor, all of his vile was aimed at the governor.


Christine Barry  04:05

Yeah. And it was just a few months ago, and he called them very good people just angry. Go see them, talk to them make a deal. One of the things that I think AG Nessel  left out was that the imagery around these protests at the Capitol building is just contributed to the normalizing of this weird paramilitary stuff that's going on now and getting mixed into our … what is supposed to be a civil body, a civil legislative body and, and our politics, and policymaking, you know, and just just our governing in general. You know what we've known all along that this could happen. I almost don't know what to say about this, because even while President Trump was campaigning, he was an advocate of violence. And he just, he takes the worst urges of the worst people and just gives them a platform. he celebrates violence at his rallies. He talks about how we have to hit back harder. We need a little bit more people roughing each other up. You know, you see someone throwing a tomato knock them around a bit. We had the Guardian last year listed 52 acts of violence done in Trump's name, I'll have a link to that. This goes on and on and on. When the looting starts, the shooting starts. You don't say that. He's defended Kyle Rittenhouse over and over. He's told police officers they don't have to be careful to not hurt suspects when they're handling them. There were a couple of guys who were arrested for kicking the shit out of a Mexican who is a permanent resident of the United States. And they said well, Trump was right about these illegals and what did Trump say Trump said, Oh, these are passionate supporters of mine. They're passionate. He said he appreciated QAnon on because they liked them. And that's before you even get to the pandemic Walt. He's demonized the Chinese how many of our Chinese friends now I have been victimized over this. He's disrespected all of our elected leaders in a way that makes it clear you can disrupt disrespect them to liberate Michigan liberate Minnesota liberate Virginia saved your second amendment it is under siege. And then we have this incident. And his response is to call Whitmer a failure. And this isn't even first time this happened. Remember a few months ago, Robert Tesh in Michigan he was arrested and charged with threatening to kill her. And all that imagery at the Capitol with naked Barbie dolls hanging off a nooses. tyrants get the noose and all that. You cannot be surprised that this happened.


Walt Sorg  06:28

Plus he makes stuff up too, in that tweet storm which I swear was fueled by steroids that he's on right now. In his final tweet, he says governor Whitmer open up your state open up your schools and open up your churches. Well, that's total bullshit. The state is open, everything is open right now even the gyms now or open the schools. It's up to local officials, whether they're open or not the governor hasn't closed any schools at all at this point. It's up to the local school boards. It's a local decision and open up your churches. She never put restrictions on churches in terms of congregations, having meetings having prayer services, she specifically exempted them from all of her executive orders. So the his whole rant was based on a bunch of lies as well. One thing I'll say for governor Whitmer, she doesn't take this lying down, she punches back. And she has been punching back hard this week.


Gretchen Whitmer  07:19

I think that tells you everything you need to know about this administration that the reaction to a plot to kidnap and kill a governor is to attack that Governor not to attack the domestic terrorists that we're we're plotting that not to even criticize them. And I think that's the difference that we have a choice in the next few weeks here. Are we going to go with this administration that takes these tactics or a deeply decent person who can bring us together and restore integrity? like Joe Biden, he called me today. That's what a decent person does. And there are Republicans who do that. Now, Charlie Baker, the governor of massachusetts called today, he's a republican, he didn't have to pick up the phone. We don't know each other that well, but he was concerned about the rhetoric and concerned about my safety in my family. That's what good American leaders do. They don't sow division. They try to unify us. And that's what we need more now more than ever.


Christine Barry  08:20

Well, you know, she's right. There was if you remember when Jennifer Granholm went in the hospital, but if she had an internal injury from a car accident years before it flared up or something happened, and it was Mike Huckabee called her out of nowhere, just to just to wish the family Well, there are people who do this because they feel that bond with other people. And I'll tell you what, well, when Rick Snyder that did that whole right to work fiasco. And there were all those protesters downtown and the state police were pepper spraying the crowd to keep them away from the building. I had such mixed emotions about that, because all I could think of was I wouldn't want any governor to go through that. And so when this came out about what was going on with Governor Whitmer, I just took it personally. I just felt scared for her. I don't know how to explain it. I'm sure you did, too. For your colleagues. As you mentioned earlier, you just take it personally, and I'm kind of offended that Mike Shirkey and Lee Chatfield then suddenly acted like the victim Mike Shirkey speaks out and he says attack on our Governor's attack on assault. You know, shut up. You know, he's put up Facebook post saying that our governor was drunk on the addiction of unfettered power. You know, he uses words like liberty and under seige day that will live in infamy. That's what he called that day that she declared that the or she extended the state of emergency without their approval. So they're out there rubbing shoulders with these people Lee Chatfield, we have video he hung flags from his office window at the Capitol Building. while armed protesters with tactical gear and camo are holding up signs that say live Free or Die.


Walt Sorg  10:01

That personal gut reaction is kind of a good lead into our first interview. I mentioned at the top of the week we went into this week thick a we're gonna be talking a lot about the legislature and the governor fighting over who's in charge of emergency orders relating to public health. With that in mind, I scheduled an interview with Bridge magazine's award winning Capitol correspondent Riley Beggin, which turned out it was scheduled and we did it three hours after Dana Nessel's news conference in which the kid net plot was announced. Needless to say, our discussion was altered a little bit.


Walt Sorg  10:35

As we record this, it's Thursday afternoon, we were going to talk about one thing, and then boom, the attorney general kind of surprises us with the announcement of a terror plot to basically disrupt Michigan government and perhaps kill the governor. Other than that, just a standard week in Michigan without getting into the terror plot itself. top of your head, do you see this? Changing the dynamics in the Capitol, we've had a really rough go of it ever since Gretchen Whitmer was elected she and Mike Shirkey especially just haven't gotten along very well. Do you see perhaps the temperature going down a little?


Riley Beggin  11:10

It's hard to say, you know, initial reactions from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle and other people who have a voice in Michigan politics are of course, you know, appalled by learning about this plot and condemn it. I think where we can see divisions continue our when we talk about next steps, right? Already, there are calls for to ban firearms in the Capitol, which is something that has come up more than once this year. Once we get into more discussions about what could actually change, we will see but it's certainly for the moment, I think, taking everybody back


Walt Sorg  11:54

top of my head, and admittedly it is top my head. And I'll probably change my mind in a few days. But it seems like if we can survive the next 28 days, that things will change markedly once we have a result in the election if in fact we have a result 28 days.


Riley Beggin  12:09

Yeah, I think it's going to be at least 30 to 35. But we'll see.


Walt Sorg  12:14

You work in the Capitol. You spent a lot of time in the Capitol. There are hundreds of people who work there that people have never heard of. In addition to reporters and legislators, you've got staff galore. How do you feel about going to work?


Riley Beggin  12:26

You know, it certainly did shake me up a little bit to read this affidavit. I mean, when you go through the front doors of the Capitol, there is no security. You know, there are two Capitol Police officers that sit to the right of the door. But you know, you're not checked, and you are allowed to bring firearms in. I'm in my late 20s. And I, like many people around my age grew up with sort of expectation that mass shootings can happen. And that, you know, the threat of violence is a threat that we sort of live with. I don't think about it all the time. But it certainly is something that working in a place like the Capitol is is a reality. Yeah.


Walt Sorg  13:17

It seems like there's been a huge shift from the time when I worked there a million years ago. And those first plexiglass shields were put up in the gallery to provide some protection for the members. But security has always been pretty lax there. I mean, it hasn't been really tight anyway, it's the people's building, they can walk in and out. No metal detectors when you come in or anything like that. I suspect that's probably going to have to change.


Riley Beggin  13:40

Yeah, we'll see. You know, just before this, I was reporting a story about, you know, whether the, that may be a moment where this will change. One of the Democratic commissioners said that after that sort of storming of the Capitol in late April, they looked into what it would take to up the security and it would be around a million dollars, to hire staff and to get equipment. I think a lot of people would argue that, that that cost is worth it. But they say that, you know, they don't have the resources or the authority to do that kind of spending, at least in the immediate future. But whether the legislature moves to make any changes, we will be will see,


Walt Sorg  14:22

you have been covering the related story of how we're going to count the votes next month and how the votes will be cast. You've talked with a couple of the major accounting clerks, in fact at a forum that both of us attended virtually earlier today. And one of the concerns is voter intimidation, especially from the same sorts of people who are plotting to kidnap perhaps killed the governor and raid the state capitol. Are they prepared for that?


Riley Beggin  14:47

It's hard to tell. I think I would say yes, I mean, from what I hear from the Secretary of State's office from the attorney general's office, from voting rights advocacy groups. There are going to be a lot of eyes on the ground. On election day, and there are going to be resources available for people to call or email authorities if they see something that's not supposed to be happening. I've heard also that there are going to be sort of coordination with law enforcement to be available in case something does happen. But many voting rights advocates sort of in addition to being a little concerned that that could happen, have also voiced to me this concern that the rhetoric itself, the the fear that there could be voter intimidation is in itself, sort of a strategy for voter intimidation, you know, this idea that potentially people could, could be so afraid that they would decide not to go to the polls. So I think you're gonna see a pretty concerted effort to push back on those fears as well. And a part of that is going to be showing that they really do have an infrastructure to protect people's right to vote,


Walt Sorg  15:57

and also a huge emphasis on voting by by voting by mail or voting by Drop box. Riley, thanks so much. I suspect when you moved to Michigan, this is what was you're not planning on becoming a crime reporter.


Riley Beggin  16:11

No, but you know, Michigan has never disappointed in terms of an interesting news cycle. And these last few weeks are no exception.


Walt Sorg  16:19

You're not bored. I'm glad we're keeping you entertained at least. Riley beggin from bridge magazine. Thanks so much for joining us.


Riley Beggin  16:25

Thanks, Walt.


Christine Barry  16:31

Democrats in the legislature are renewing calls to ban firearms from the Capitol Building. Michigan is one of just two states that allows loaded weapons in the Capitol. And have been saying it's a tragedy waiting to happen. We're joined by House Democratic Leader Christine Greig,


Walt Sorg  16:47

you your caucus had been talking about security at the Capitol for a long time ever since the demonstrations in the spring, when you had some of these people in the gallery armed. In fact, two of the people who were arrested, were in the gallery photos of them locked and loaded. And only for the grace of God that didn't shoot. Yeah. And yet, the Republican leadership is saying, no, we're not going to change things. What's going on?


Christine Greig  17:13

Well, you know, it's not just talking about this since the initial protest this term, but every term we've been bringing this up that the rules that we have right now don't make sense at all that, you know, you can't bring a sign in. But yet you can bring loaded weapons into the Capitol. So this isn't something new an issue. But it certainly got heightened when we saw on a actually global level, how Michigan was just being put up there a spotlight on us about how ridiculous our laws are and how we are not keeping legislators and frankly, 10s of thousands of schoolchildren that go through that building every single year, we're not keeping him safe. And for the Republican leadership to stall and delay and come up with excuses for not acting on this is just unconscionable. Things have got to change. People are demanding this and we want to feel safe, we don't want to feel threatened to do our work every day. And we want to make sure that it remains the people's house that people feel safe from all over the state to be able to see where their legislature works and where they actually have a voice.


Walt Sorg  18:21

People tend to forget that you're not only are you a politician, you're also a person, and you have families and you have people who care about you. How are you and your colleagues, families responding to all this?


Christine Greig  18:34

Everyone's worried everyone's worried. And, you know, when you you know, you take some risks when you sign up to be a public servant. But you never thought you had to fear for your life, every single day going into the workplace. And our loved ones feel that every single day I come from a very large family and they're spread out across the country. And I you know, all of them have sent me a text or called me and said, what's going on in Michigan? Are you okay? It's very stressful, stressful for our children, too. And it shouldn't be like this. It doesn't have to be like this. But again, Republican leadership just refuses to budge on this.


Walt Sorg  19:13

Do you have a sense that this is going to impact the temperature of the dialogue between you and the Republican leadership?


Christine Greig  19:20

Well, it's been an issue for quite some time. I mean, this should be something we can find common ground on and doesn't need to push up the rhetoric. But, you know, if they continue to fail to act on this, yeah, we're going to continue to push it as an issue. And I'm sure it will cause some friction. But this is because this is what the public is demanding. And if you want to turn down the heat, you have to make some changes. And this is a common sense thing to do to increase the protection and security of our state capitol, and the lives of our legislators and visitors into that building every single year.


Walt Sorg  19:55

This of course, is on top of the pandemic, the Capitol's not immune from that. We seen of course it's in the White House for crying out loud. You also you have many of your colleagues and staff, well, mostly colleagues who don't wear masks. So you're really you're running a double risk there. Is it getting to the point where nobody wants to go to work?


Christine Greig  20:12

Yeah, I absolutely. I mean, when you have colleagues that don't take this seriously, I mean, Rep Beau LeFave if they've tested positive just less than two weeks ago, and he was in committee without a mask on walking through the the committee room talking to visitors as well. And then he tests positive. And, you know, when you're not taking it seriously, or when, again, Republican leadership does not mandate wearing masks. I don't know if you know this. But you know, I know you've been worked in the building in the past, but men must wear neckties when they go on the House floor. And they are vigilant about watching these these guys come in that don't haven't put their ties on yet. And yet, they seem to claim that they cannot require legislators to wear masks on the floor. I think that is ridiculous. And it's offensive. And if the Republican leadership really cared about our safety, our health, they would make sure that every single person in that chamber was wearing a mask.


Walt Sorg  21:17

Now, a lot of legislators are term limited and a lot of the House members are term limited are not going to be coming back in January and are not looking to move on to the Senate or continue their political careers. Are they even going to show up for work?


Christine Greig  21:29

Absolutely. I mean, we we are sworn to do our jobs, we will be at work will make sure that we we carry on. But we're not going to be quiet about continuing to talk about this issue that is so important to confidence in the system, confidence in the security and competence that elected leaders are doing what they should be doing to protect, to protect each other and to protect the citizens of this state.


Walt Sorg  21:54

Let me veer into another issue briefly that could come up in the lame duck. And that is Michigan's electoral votes. If the election is close, there has been talked the article in The Atlantic that Republican controlled legislators may be asked to basically ignore the vote of the people. Is there any talk of that in happening in Lansing should the vote be close?


Christine Greig  22:15

2020 has brought us so many things we never thought that would be there. So of course, we're looking at every single angle to make sure that we are paying attention that we're ready to go if any additional shenanigans is not a strong enough word for this attacks on democracy, it's probably much more suitable. But we're absolutely watching out for everything. I can't put anything past the Trump administration, the Trump circle, and that flows all the way down to the state. And so we have to be ready to act on anything happening after the election.


Walt Sorg  22:50

Yeah, assault on democracy seems to be kind of like the thing these days. Mm hmm. Absolutely. Christine. Greig, thank you very much for joining us. Be safe.


Christine Greig  23:00

Thank you. Thank you so much. And same to you. And let's let's get through this.


Walt Sorg  23:04

Hey, I'm safe. I'm sitting in my living room.


Walt Sorg  23:09

Our thanks to leader Greig for joining us on the pod. You mentioned earlier crushing the complaints, especially from speaker Lee Chatfield, that the governor had not filled in the legislature and all of these threats. And he sent her a letter after he sent a tweet out complaining about the whole thing and I thought it was really it was a kind of a cheap political stunt for a couple of reasons. He basically said that the legislature should have been informed as soon as they knew there was a possible threat on the Capitol. Yet the reality is that's not the governor's call. This was an FBI investigation in conjunction with the state police. It was up to the Justice Department, which is Donald Trump and Bill bars Justice Department and the FBI what information they wanted to release more than anybody else. sharing that information with the legislature, given the likelihood of leaks of the story, could very well have jeopardized their inside paid informant who was basically telling them everything that was going on with these jackasses, so that you didn't want to do that you didn't want to jeopardize the investigation. But more importantly, because they had this paid informant on the inside of the plot. There really wasn't a threat to the Capitol. They wanted to threaten the Capitol. But if these guys had actually started to move on the Capitol with their 200 people to storm it and take it over and kidnap people, they were ready for it. The state police would have been there with guns blazing if necessary, to protect the Capitol. So the Capitol really was never at risk. And it's the same with the governor. I talked with the some people close to the governor and the governor's family. And they've been briefed for weeks and weeks and weeks. So what was going on, they knew exactly what was happening, including her family members so that they were not totally freaked out when it went public. And they were prepared for it and they had been taking precautions all along. So from that standpoint, because of great work by law enforcement, there really wasn't an actual threat as much as there was an attempt to have a threat against both the governor and the legislature. So, Speaker Chatfield probably should have done a little private investigating and maybe pick up the phone and call the governor, rather than putting out a tweet and a letter.


Christine Barry  25:20

Well, it was a, you know, a political move, wasn't it? I mean, he made a cheap shot about we can't all have multimillion dollar fences or something installed in our houses. God, they're still complaining about that stupid fence. The governor's residence is the responsibility of the state police, the state police who decide how the governor's security goes. So he complains about her fence. He said he got death threats, because she said something about how his legislative moves would kill people. And you know what? I I don't think it's, I don't think it's nice. I don't think anyone should get death threats. But everyone in that building gets some kind of threat at some time. And they're processed and taken care of. So you're getting something that says, I want to kill you or I don't even know what the thing said, you know, if we watch the Democrats, especially the democratic women posts, these threats that they get on Twitter all the time, you can see that they're these terrible things. I have no doubt that Lee Chatfield got some kind of terrible messages. But everybody gets those. It's not the same as I'm going to blow up all these bridges. So the police can't help you when I take you to Wisconsin to kill you.


Walt Sorg  26:29

Another health risk to to the member the bigger risk of members of the legislature is the COVID-19 as I discussed with Christine, Greig, but that's also a workplace issue that is facing the US Congress, an opportunity to talk with both senator Debbie Stabenow and Congressman Dan Kildee about that issue, an immediate call that they had during the week,


Walt Sorg  26:50

given the level of the pandemic, right in the in Congress right now. Are you apprehensive even to go to work?


Debbie Stabenow  26:57

I think that's a really important question. And because of what has happened in the Senate, and President, Senator McConnell finally agreed with us that we should not be in session, the next two weeks, we'll see what happens. After that. Senate Democrats have taken this very seriously. And very differently than Senate Republicans. We stopped meeting in person, the end of March, we usually do business lunches on Tuesday and Thursday, we now do phone calls. We've been doing that, since the end of March, we we have been very careful to protect our staff working virtually. And the Senate has been having lunches in person continually, and not always rigorously wearing masks in and so on. So it's been a very different situation. And I think we have to be serious not only about ourselves, our own health, but the staff.


Dan Kildee  27:56

I guess the advantage of the Speaker Pelosi has issued a rule as his her authority to mandate the wearing of masks on the floor of the House to mandate the use of masks in committee. The frustration though, is that there still are some members who for reasons that are just beyond my comprehension, feel that they're demonstrating. I don't know what it is some sort of false sense of manhood by not wearing a mask and sort of flaunting that, of course, it's not any expression of virility or manhood. It's an expression of their complete and abject ignorance.


Kamala Harris  28:40

American people have witnessed what is the greatest failure of any presidential administration in the history of our country. 210,000 dead people in our country in just the last several months, over 7 million people who have contracted this disease, one in five businesses closed. We're looking at frontline workers who have been treated like sacrificial workers. We are looking at over 30 million people who in the last several months had to file for unemployment.


Christine Barry  29:12

Kamala Harris had one job in the vice presidential debate, demonstrate that she had the chops to take over as president if something happened to the 77 year old Joe Biden. She came out with both guns blazing and repeatedly chided Mike Pence for interrupting her repeatedly and talking over moderator Susan Page as well. But the line of the night focused on the issue that catapulted Democrats to control of the house in 2018, and continues to dominate in 2020. And that's health care.


Kamala Harris  29:41

If you have a pre existing condition, heart disease, diabetes, breast cancer, they're coming for you. If you love someone who has a pre existing condition, they're coming for you.  If you are under the age of 26 on your parent's coverage, they're coming for you.


Walt Sorg  29:59

Yeah, if nothing else is Page was very polite. She said thank you about 5000 times and was totally ignored by both candidates. It was it was kind of fascinating to listen to it because she was totally in control. pence was pence. And if you like him, I guess he was fine if you don't like him fine, too. But I don't think it changed the thing.


Christine Barry  30:20

Yeah, according to the, you know, the CNN poll after the debate, Harris's favourability went from 56% up to 63. And pence was at 41%, both before and after Politico 51% gave the debate to Harris and 42 pence. I don't even know what it means to win one of these debates anymore. But you know, it's interesting, the gender gap. 69% say that Harris did the best. And 69% of women say Harris did the best 48% of men say Harris does the best, as opposed to 46%, saying Pence, that was kind of interesting. But you know, I do want to say something, though, about that messaging around healthcare, I thought that was a really good moment, because our message has always been that they're going to take away protections for pre existing conditions, and all of these other things that are built into the Affordable Care Act. And what she did was she took that passive messaging, and turned it into active message messaging, which I think is important, because if you're not using the things that they say, they're going to take away, you might not really be actively concerned about that. But what Harris did was say they're coming for you. And then she took very specific positions, right? She, she talked about if you have this condition, or that condition, or if you love somebody with this condition, or if you're under 26, they're coming for you. And so now, you've got something to think about personally, now you're thinking about your family. Now you've got skin in the game. And I think that that's a much better message. And I think that her time as a prosecutor really showed up there like her, her discipline and and her skill at making those arguments as a prosecutor really served her well there.


Walt Sorg  32:02

I thought that the probably the most significant thing of the week for the Biden Harris campaign, as a result of mistakes by the Trump campaign and Trump and Pence was reinforcing and solidifying the gender gap. First, you have Mike Pence, who is constantly being rude basically to both the woman who was running against him for vice president and the woman who was moderating the debate. He totally ignored the timing guidelines that he had agreed to, he was constantly interrupting just like his boss did. And he basically as we said, at the top was mansplaining. A lot of things to Kamala  Harris, which he really didn't need to do. And then on top of that, you've got Donald Trump, basically showing absolutely no sympathy or support for a woman governor, whose life was being threatened by a bunch of right wing cooks. And the combination of the two I think, I think was James Carville said they're not going to get any women votes in the suburbs anymore. They just completely blow it.


Christine Barry  33:04

No, it's insane. The the polls for that vote of that demographic are so skewed now.


Walt Sorg  33:09

We'll find out more later this week. Epic MRA got a poll. That's just wrapping up now. They're going to be releasing it I think Tuesday or Wednesday, which will show the state of the campaign here in Michigan, and it will have gender breakouts. conservative columnist bill kristol, I think summed it up really the best. He said Kamala Harris in a tweet when the vice presidential debate, pence finished third behind the housefly who took up residence on pensez, perfectly styled gray hair for two minutes and nine seconds. And as you mentioned, the National polling agreed giving Harris the margin of victory about 60-40 they did not pull the results for the fly,


Christine Barry  33:46

which is unfortunate. I think I think the fly would have done well, and it would have been a really good moment for him. But I don't know I rushed out to the Joe Biden store whatever it was to buy one of those cool, fly swatters, and they were sold out. So I didn't get one. But I know our listeners can't see us. But I just want to shout out Walt, to your bet your zoom background with that little fly, you've got up in the corner now. Walt always changes his background. So these wonderful places, and now it's homage to the fly. So thank you very much.


Walt Sorg  34:17

yeah, I call him Mike,



shoo, fly, don't bother me. Don't bother me. Don't bother me for the longest somebody.


Walt Sorg  34:28

What are the other things Christine about the debate that I found intriguing was I think it really kind of marked the start of the 2024 campaign for president. Everybody assumes there are going to be two new candidates in 2024. If joe biden's elected president will be a one term president. And if Trump God forbid is reelected president he obviously is going to be termed out unless he decides to stage a coup or something. So he would be gone so the Pence is running for president Kamala Harris obviously is interested in being president. She's already run one And being vice presidents are pretty nice launch for another campaign. You've got others out there who are already making noises about it. You've got Ted Cruz who never stopped running for president but running forever. It seems. You've got the governor of south dakota has got national ambitions, and a few others. But I think somebody who's really making a move this week, whether she'll admit it or not, for a possible presidential run down the road is Gretchen Whitmer. She has been doing a lot of national interviews in the last Well, actually since she became governor. But certainly since the pandemic started, she has been one of the major national faces of opposition along with Andrew Cuomo of New York, in fighting the Trump administration. She's been very outspoken. And in this last week, she has been everywhere, every time I turn on national cable news, or for that matter, broadcast news. There she is doing another interview, she's got an op ed in the new york times this week, and she's just doing a ton of national media. And you normally don't take the time to do that unless you've got national ambitions.


Christine Barry  36:04

Well, her national ambitions might just be to get rid of Donald Trump. And you know what? People like her, she is a good person to put out there. She's articulate, you know, a lot of people think that she's attractive, good looking. She's young. And, you know, and I understand a lot of people don't think that but look, I am saying she's popular.


Walt Sorg  36:28

well, she's part of a new generation of leadership in the in the political structure, you've got her and Harris and a few others that are all in that late 40s, early 50s stage, the people who led the Democratic primaries this last time or their that was it for them. You've got you know, Bernie Sanders is going to be 115 for the next cycle or something like that. Elizabeth Warren is in her 70s. In terms of the the also RANS, may get back into it as well, Cory Booker may get back into it, and a couple of the others. But the reality is, it's a new generation that is moving in for the Democratic Party. And I think probably too, for the Republican Party, which is gonna have to be rebuilt after what could be a disaster in in November. But certainly she's a part of that mix. And she's making sure she's in that mix.


Christine Barry  37:15

So look at what she's been through, she started out her term fighting with a legislature that as soon as they are elected before she even took office, tried to reduce the Executive Office tried to reduce the Secretary of State's office tried to reduce the Attorney General tried to diminish all of the work. And the voters wishes with the ballot initiative, the voters not politician and the redistricting commission, the legislature tried to mess with that. And the ensuing budget battle, they carried that all the way through. She's been fighting since day one, she wanted to come in and fix infrastructure, fix the damn roads, we haven't even been able to talk about the roads in a year. And then COVID hit Detroit. And, you know, half the people in the legislature were racist about it, because it was a Detroit problem, or a flint problem. And, I mean, she's just been fighting battles from every angle. She is a good person to put out there because to me, all of what's been going on is representative of this region, not just Michigan, but the rust belt, the American midwest, I guess,


Walt Sorg  38:25

what amazes me about this whole week and all the things we've been talking about, completely lost in a Joe Biden, who's probably going to be our next president, gave possibly the best speech of his life, this week, at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, where he laid out his philosophy, what he wants to accomplish in government. And it's almost completely overlooked. But I think we had to listen just to a little bit of it, it really was a brilliant piece of work. And it really defined Joe Biden beautifully,


Joe Biden  38:53

to have our fists clenched, but our arms open, but to seek not to tear each other apart, but seek to come together. You don't have to agree with me on everything, or even on most things to see that we're experiencing today is neither good, nor normal. The country is in a dangerous place. Our trust in each other is ebbing hope seems elusive. Too many Americans see our public life not as an arena for mediation of our differences. But rather they see it as an occasion for total, unrelenting, partisan warfare, instead of treating each other's party as the opposition. We treat them as the enemy. This must end we need to revive the spirit of bipartisanship in this country, the spirit of being able to work with one another. Amen, brother.


Christine Barry  39:45

Yeah, you know, a couple of things of note there. Well, first of all, I think you pointed out, Trump wasn't mentioned even once in that in that speech, not even once it was all just about us. And then the other thing is, I think I don't know about you all. But I grew up thinking that going into politics and becoming a policy maker, and working in that arena was a very noble profession, and it should still be a very no noble profession. governing is a profession. And it's been cheapened for sure, because people think now term limits are the answer to everything. And, you know, you got to get rid of politicians, even though politicians, if they're good are the ones who understand policy the most and understand how to get things done. And and you used to be able to talk about bipartisanship as your loyal opposition. Working together. You know, it used to be, yeah, we don't agree on how schools should work. But we both agree there should be public schools. And now, we can't even say that about each other anymore. It's a really, I don't know, over the over my lifetime. I've seen so much stuff change and get more toxic. And I think his speech kind of made me long for the time when I felt that that way, it's before I knew anything,


Walt Sorg  41:04

this will show my age a little bit. But the first person that I remember as a kid was Dwight Eisenhower. And he ran on the campaign slogan, I like Ike. And people did like Ike. He was a unifier. He was a healer. He was a national hero. And he was incredibly popular. And then we had jack kennedy who inspired people inspired the best in people in his short time as President. And then came Lyndon Johnson, who perhaps was the most accomplished of any of them, but had the fatal political flaw and the of the Vietnam War, which started as downhill. And then of course, came Richard Nixon. And we all know what happened there. And it really has been has been falling and falling and falling. And hopefully, this is where we're bottoming out. And it's going to start moving back up again. That certainly is what Joe Biden is hoping to accomplish is to bring us back to that point where we looked at our president as a unifier and as a healer, not as somebody who was our partisan in chief.


Christine Barry  42:05

Okay, time for some political notes. And these are the stories we were talking about. That should be a big, big deal in a normal world. But this isn't normal. So let's start with the struggle between the legislature and the governor over emergency health rules. The latest move comes from the governor and her health department. And this was a matter of the Department of Health and Human Services issuing COVID emergency orders that were somewhat similar to the orders that were already in place under the governor's executive orders. We have capacity limits and rules for sports. Those are the same Traverse City slightly less restricted as before mask requirements, almost identical. There are no longer bar closures, though. But you can only serve alcohol to gatherings that are seated at tables so you don't have the big mixers at the bars. So I thought that was that was kind of interesting. And the other thing I want to point out while is the mink farm that tested positive for SARS-COV-2, one of the mink farms in Michigan, the virus that causes covid in humans was found in their minks. But the interesting part about this is that as of June of this year, over a million farmed minks have already been put down across across Europe because they were infected with SARS co2. And a European study concludes that the virus is jumping back and forth between people and animals. But as of August, the USDA says there is no evidence of that. So you have kind of two opposing viewpoints there between Europe and the United States. What Europe is saying is that humans can transmit the virus to the mink, and then the mink shed the virus in their little houses. It gets kicked back up into the air as dust which is inhaled as human. Right now the Michigan Department of Agriculture says there's we don't need to worry about it that mink farm was contained. It's just a small number.


Walt Sorg  43:57

I didn't even go ahead and make firms in Michigan until this week, shows you what I know. We're polling. And what's significant about the polling now is they say it's a point in time the elections three weeks off, but the reality is the elections right now. Hundreds of thousands of people in Michigan have already voted are in the process of voting right now. So these polls are very significant. And what they show both in Michigan and nationally is pointing towards a democratic sweep. In Michigan, Joe Biden is gaining a little bit of ground, according to The Detroit News poll now up by nine points, which is about where I think he should be Gretchen Whitmer won her election by just under 10 points two years ago, and I've been feeling for a while now that he's going to win by about the same margin in Michigan. It also shows the Gary Peters is up by about what seems about right that he's up five points in the glengarriff group survey of 600 likely Michigan voters and Peters it's funny I get his emails for fundraising. He's constantly poor mouthing and saying it's tied or trailing. We're in trouble. He's got more money than me and all that. Yet, virtually every poll, there's only one poll that I've seen the chose john James even tied with Gary Peters. And that's from the Trafalgar group, which I don't think is a very reputable polling organization. Everything else shows Gary Peters leading by four to nine points, depending on the specific sample and when they took the polling. And that should be about where he is at. That's about what the margin was last time. When john James ran against Debbie Stabenow. It is, though it's got is a vicious campaign. I can't remember a campaign where you've had this much negative advertising on both sides.


Christine Barry  45:40

There's so much outside money coming in for James, you know, I want to talk about the polling real quick, because it's interesting. I went back and looked at the history for I think back to march is all I looked but so these moves in the polls are just kind of gains and losses of one. So far, they've all been in Gary Peters favor, except for the epic mra poll, which had a lot of movement going on. And they're really only as of September, four points apart with Gary Peters at 45 to 41. This is EPIC MRA Now. But in June, epic Mr. I had him at 51 to 36. And, you know, we expected it to tighten, I think, but that's the only poll out there that hasn't had a move of just one point. Either way, like even Trafalgar you mentioned where they're tied. Now. They used to have James at plus one. So everything is just moving at like ones. So yeah, lots of outside money coming in. For James to try to close that gap. I don't think he's going to do it. Peters definitely has to keep on differentiating himself and just really pushing his record. His record is solid. I mean, he's legit, but he's just, I don't think he's selling it. Well, for whatever reason.


Walt Sorg  46:59

It's interesting, too, that the national polls are showing the Joe Biden is pretty consistently not showing up with double digit leads over Donald Trump. I think the most recent one was an abc news poll that was released on Sunday, which showed him up 12 points that's consistent with the CNN poll, and a Wall Street Journal NBC poll as well. It's in Michigan where the significance is is going to be over in the west side of the state. Will Joe Biden strength be enough to pull in a couple of upsets over there with john holy beating Fred Upton in the sixth congressional district, and with Hillary Scholten over Peter Meijer in the third congressional district, and turning Michigan into a democratic delegation right now it is officially seven six with one independent Justin Amash. But realistically, seven, seven, if you flip Michigan, so it's the democrats and somehow Donald Trump manages to throw the election into the House of Representatives. That becomes very significant because in the House of Representatives, each state only gets one vote, or whether you're Wyoming with one member of Congress or California with 53.


Christine Barry  48:03

The Biden campaign increased its focus on the black vote with a new ad narrated by actor Samuel L. Jackson, and a 25 minute video from the most popular political figure in the nation, Michelle Obama, who all but called Trump a racist,


Michelle Obama  48:20

the President and his allies are trying to tap into that frustration and distract from his breathtaking failures by giving folks someone to blame other than them. They're stoking fears about black and brown Americans lying about how minorities will destroy the suburbs, whipping up violence and intimidation. And they're pinning it all on what's been an overwhelmingly peaceful movement for racial solidarity. It's true. Research backs it up, only a tiny fraction of demonstrations have had any violence at all. So what the President is doing is once again, patently false. It's morally wrong. And yes, it is racist. But that doesn't mean it won't work.


Walt Sorg  49:15

I think she's made her point. Nailed it.


Walt Sorg  49:21

This week in John James even as his polling looks a little more dismal. James continues to avoid specifics on major issues. His new campaign website now has an issues page, but it's mostly a collection of expanded bumper sticker slogans and vague aspirations. And this week the Democratic Party's calling him out for his radio silence on Donald Trump's shifting positions on COVID relief bills at one point say no negotiations now he's saying let's just vent everything that we possibly can uncovered a relief going back and forth, and back and forth, and still opposing any assistance for struggling state and local governments or facing new budget years. To begin, that just began actually they really don't have the money to pay for essential services through this year because the the previous relief money is run out. Meanwhile, the National Organization VoteVets is putting its influence behind the re election of a different military veteran. And that's Gary Peters. Leading a national call for veterans was former Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander, who voluntarily suspended his political career because he was dealing with very severe PTSD. He noted that Gary Peters has a reputation for actually getting results for veterans,


Jason Kander  50:33

all of us had dog tags that did not list our political affiliation. And that's why the word bipartisan is thrown around with Gary so much because he didn't go to the US Senate to be on msnbc every day. When he's on there, he does a hell of a job. But that's not his deal, right, Gary is there to get stuff done. And that's exactly what he does


Christine Barry  50:54

I've said this before. But I just have to say it again, john James has built his campaign brand on his time in the military. And, you know, he uses the language he uses the imagery calls people copilots, he puts missiles and helicopters and uniforms and all his ads, and he glorifies it. And this is a terrible thing to glorify, and it's not that understand I'm not saying anything about his service, or the service members. some reason we always have to say that so that people understand. But he's served in a multi generational conflict that has killed half a million people, thousands of Americans, almost as many civilian contractors as service members. And if we get back to veterans, which is really the issue that I'm talking about roughly 12% of Desert Storm veteran suffer from PTSD. That number goes up. When you talk about veterans from operations, Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom, up to 20% of those veterans suffer from PTSD. This is the longest that the United States has ever been in a war veterans sending their kids over there now. And you don't see a lot on the front page about these huge losses. But the majority of the losses that we've seen in the last few years have been from service members who are Army Rangers or in similar elite units. And he's over here running for Senate on the basis that he was an Army Ranger combat helicopter pilot, which, in terms of the Ranger designation, the army said was not true. And this is just so disrespectful is so disrespectful using your military service as a political prop is disrespectful anyway, calling yourself a ranger when you're not one and the Rangers are still at war still getting killed. That's just immoral. It's just wrong.


Walt Sorg  52:36

Can't argue with that.


Christine Barry  52:37

Let's end our notes on a happy story. The online reunion of the cast of the HBO comedy Veep, the best politics based comedy ever. It was kicked off by an announcement by the world's worst political press secretary Mike mclintock. Made by Matt Walsh.



Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, distinguished members of the press. We are here today on behalf other key state in the upcoming election. I am of course talking about the wonderful state of Michigan. I'm sorry, I mean, Wisconsin, I always do that my W's they look like me. Does anyone else have that problem? Like when you're reading your letter, the W's all the letters are backwards, and they're upside down. Wisconsin, the great state of Wisconsin, there we go. Not that Michigan isn't also a key state in this upcoming election because it is just like a lot of other key states like Ohio and Pennsylvania.


Walt Sorg  53:32

It was a lot of fun. It's an hour and a half long, they raised a half million dollars for the Wisconsin Democratic Party. Why is this significant on the Michigan podcast? The idea of reuniting beloved TV cast probably originated here eight years ago, when the cast of The West Wing produced a reunion campaign skit in support of state Supreme Court candidate Bridget Mary McCormick, who now of course is Michigan's Chief Justice. Why? Turns out that her sister Mary was part of the West Wing caste playing the role of the national security adviser. We have a link to that mini drama on our website. And also they're doing another if they don't want to call it a reunion, but they're doing a recreation of one of the episodes as a stage presentation this week on HBO max. And they previewed it on Colbert show Friday night. And it should be pretty interesting other than all of those folks that worked at president Bartlett's West Wing now have a lot of gray hair.


Christine Barry  54:28

Well, so do we. Yep. All right. It's time for the attack out of the week runner up Republican voters against Trump for a spot narrated by former bush CIA and NSA director Michael Hayden. Hayden suffered a stroke which affects his speech, but he did want to speak out.


Republican Voters Against Trump  54:46

If there was another term for President Trump. I don't know what happens to America. Truth is really important, but especially in intelligence, President Trump doesn't care about facts. President Trump doesn't care about the truth. He doesn't listen to his experts. The FBI says white nationalism is a real problem and the FBI wants to do something about it. But the President doesn't want to talk about that. He doesn't keep the country safe. It's unbelievable. I was 40 years in the military, okay. alliances are wonderful. alliances are Win, win. And now, I don't know what's happening to our alliances. I mean, if Trump gives another term, but I think many alliances will be gone, and America will be alone. And that's a real, real problem. I absolutely just agree with some of Biden's policies. But that's not important. What's important is the United States. And I'm supporting Joe Biden is a good man. Donald Trump is not.


Walt Sorg  56:07

And our winner for this week, the merry republicans at the Lincoln project, they called out Donald Trump for fomenting domestic violence in a spot that was released before news of the Whitmer kidnapping plot.


The Lincoln Project  56:19

First, Donald Trump tells america he won't accept the results of the election unless he wins. Then, Trump tells his violent anti semitic proud boy allies to stand by, Stand by for violence. Stand by for attacks stand by to keep him in office at all costs. These words aren't a dog whistle. They are a siren.  by supporters to go into the polls and watch very carefully Trump's violent moms make it clear. This election is a choice between balance and bullets. Between America or Trump, the Lincoln project is responsible for the content of this advertising.


Christine Barry  57:19

And that's a wrap for this week's pandemic. But head over to our website, MichiganPolicast.com. For more information on this week's topics, including links, tweets, photos, anything you can ask for we always cite our sources. So you should feel free to go over there and fact check us or get more information. You've got to read up on that mink story. It's crazy.


Walt Sorg  57:39

Yeah, take a look at the Samuel L Jackson, head to it. Sam Jackson. It is very intimidating. Best you will vote for else. It's really good. You can email us at mipolicast@gmail.com or reach out through Michigan Policast page on Facebook or on Twitter. We will be back in a week God only knows what insanity awaits us then. The Michigan Policast is a production of Michigan citizens for a better tomorrow.

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