Election fraud lies and the Republicans who love them. Abdul El-Sayed on party unity and the progressive movement

December 7, 2020

Michigan Policast for Monday, December 7, 2020

  In this episode:

  • COVID in Michigan, vaccines on the horizon
  • A Karen, a racist,* and a superspreader walk into a committee hearing …
  • Dr. Abdul el Sayed on Democratic Party unity and fighting for a progressive voice
  • Political Notes
  • Transcript



Jump to:

COVID in Michigan, vaccines on the horizon




A Karen, a racist,* and a superspreader walk into a committee hearing







Context and larger image at Michigan SoS website here

Dr. Abdul El-Sayed on Democratic Party unity and fighting for a progressive voice


Political Notes



The Congressional Plastics Solutions Task Force will convene periodic meetings to:

Highlight changes and innovations in the private sector;
Increase understanding of the challenges facing our domestic recycling infrastructure;
Identify and discuss innovative approaches to plastics generation and recovery, as well as the latest research on those topics;
Build consensus among Members of Congress around opportunities to address plastic waste.



Video: Rep. Stevens Convenes Subcommittee Hearing to Examine Recycling Technologies

Too small to see with the naked eye, microplastics are devilishly difficult to clean up, and often left out of the conversation on waste, which frequently focus on reducing, reusing, and recycling large items. “These actions are necessary and important,” Napper says. But “solutions need to expand into deeper technological and novel advances.” ~Source







Walt Sorg  00:07

This is the Michigan Policast. We're all about Michigan politics and policy and the National stories impacting our pleasant peninsulas. I'm Walt sorg. And unlike election conspiracy theorist Melissa Carone, I do not see dead people.


Joneigh Khaldun  00:20

We are still seeing a slight decline in the rate of new cases over the past 13 days, but our case rates remain alarmingly high. rates in the state are five times what we saw in the beginning of October. every area of the state has a case rate over 450 cases per million. And our case positivity rate ranges from 8.5% in the up to 15%. In the Kalamazoo area,


Walt Sorg  00:50

that's a public health director Joanie Khaldoon on Michigan's explosive growth in COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations and deaths. It has leveled out in our state, but remained at pandemic levels even as they continue to increase elsewhere in the Midwest. The governor's three week emergency order limiting the most high risk activities expires on Tuesday, with the likelihood they will in fact be extended.


Christine Barry  01:13

I'm Christine Barry, in what was called a legislative hearing, America's most prominent delusional attorney Rudy Giuliani brought his circus to town. It quickly devolved into the theater of the ridiculous, nearly four hours of hearsay gossip misstatements about Michigan law, and a veiled plea to legislators to ignore the vote of the people.


Walt Sorg  01:49

Later in the pod I'll talk progressive politics and public health with Dr. Abdul el Sayed the 2018, gubernatorial candidate who has become a national leader in the progressive wing of the Democratic Party. But we begin with what is a national and state emergency, the pandemic second wave is far more deadly than the first, the National daily death toll now exceeds the number of people killed in the World Trade Centers on 911. The number of people who have died in the last three months more than the total number of Americans killed in the entire Vietnam War,


Gretchen Whitmer  02:22

every health system in the in the state has seen growth in their hospitalizations from where we were just a month ago. And that is very concerning for everyone in the community. And so, as we get, I think, a few more days of information under our belts, we'll be in a much stronger position to really assess if there are some things that maybe are safer to do. But if we have to make some extensions of the current pause, in some realms, and that is sadly possible, because of the just sheer volume of COVID, I have to tell you, too, we are continuing to pursue ways to help businesses that are a part of this pause because the nature of that right because indoor multiple households, activities that require taking a mask off like eating, it is my hope that we get this federal stimulus. There's also efforts being done here in Lansing and hopes that we can get 100 million dollars to help some of these businesses and unemployed workers as well as build up our apparatus to distribute vaccines.


Christine Barry  03:27

We're recording on Sunday. On Tuesday, the governor's temporary three week ban indoor restaurant dining and bars along with restrictions on public gatherings will expire. She concedes the decision on that ultimately rests with the people of the state and their willingness to do their part to fight the pandemic.


Gretchen Whitmer  03:45

The bottom line really is do the masses to the people do their part, it comes down to individuals, all of us doing our part and taking this seriously. You know, we said eight, nine months ago that if everyone could just stay in place for three weeks, the spiders would be gone. And that's why you know, here we are eight months later, over 9000 people having lost their lives to this virus, having what was equivalent of a September 11 event just yesterday in America, the number of lives lost just yesterday. If we could all do our part right now, and take this incredibly seriously. Three weeks from now life would look very differently.


Walt Sorg  04:30

But unfortunately, Christine, I think that's not a likelihood. There are so many people in the state it's a minority, but it's a large minority, who simply refuse to accept science who simply refuse to accept what virtually all of the public health leaders are saying and instead rely completely on what they're hearing from Donald Trump. Quite frankly, he's the one who's even though he says he supports masking, he doesn't support the any lockdowns of any kind. He derives people who do it. Although right now he's not saying much of anything on this. He's basically given up on the the COVID virus is completely and he's focusing all of his attention on trying to overturn the election plus his his efforts to improve his golf game. The numbers I know, we'll put a link on that you'll have a link on the website for access to data but the numbers are absolutely frightening. I know here in Lansing, our hospitals are beginning to fill up, outstate in some of the smaller communities where they don't have access to the larger urban hospitals. They are full and it's only going to get worse right now the biggest hotspot in the state is not Detroit. There's not Lansing, it's not Flint. It's Kalamazoo.


Christine Barry  05:34

One of the really disturbing things about all of this is that people, as we've talked about in the in the past several weeks, people seem to be getting tired of taking precaution. So as you see our leadership, and you know what leadership we have, thank goodness, Governor Whitmer is making decisions and doing things along with her administration. But the leadership has to say things like 911 events, more people than Vietnam, so that the public can get a frame of reference for how bad this is. And yet, to many people, it is somehow acceptable. Those numbers, those same numbers that were so horrible to us back when those events happen, are happening here, every day now. But it's not quite as threatening, because it's something that we haven't felt for, or people have felt it. But they feel that that the, you know, they're scared about the economy, they're scared about their own personal livelihoods, you know, that restaurant owners and whatnot, these people are tired of the restrictions and when rather risk it. It's heartbreaking in one respect. But it's also very disheartening to see that even though you know, how many people are dying, even though you know that our hospitals are filling up, even though you know, that school district after school district is struggling with what to do with how to keep little kids in school where they need to be and let parents work when they can, and make sure that everybody's getting the education they can, even though you know, all these things are happening, you're still going to be in a hole because you want to go to the bar and you believe in the economy. It just makes me angry. I get it. I get it. Don't thinking about it. You know, she did ask the legislature for $100 million.


Walt Sorg  07:17

And she's raised that she's raised that number down to, I think it's up to $200 million.


Christine Barry  07:24

Well, the last thing I saw was Lee Chatfield on Twitter saying we're going to consider it. But the most important thing is that everybody, you know, all the businesses open? Well, you know, there's complications with that we have holidays coming up the lag time between the exposure and the symptoms, a couple of weeks, how are we going to know whether or not and I know, I'm thinking about this as like a school board member, but there are a lot of schools struggling with this? Do you open your school back up, if you've had it closed, you open back up for a week before you go on a Thanksgiving break? Where Let's face it, a lot of families are going to get together even if they are asked not to. This is what government is for, we need people to step up and say, Look, we're going to take care of you. During this public health crisis. We're going to tell you what is safe based on all of our resources. And we're going to make sure that you survive financially while we get through what we have to do.


Walt Sorg  08:20

Okay, got three points on this. First of all, most politicians want to make decisions that are popular so they can get reelected. real leaders make decisions, regardless of whether it makes them popular or not. They do things that makes them unpopular, which is what Gretchen Whitmer is doing. Something's making him very unpopular with a lot of people to the point of some of them wanting to kidnap and murder her. I mean, that's, that's about as unpopular as you can get with one portion of your constituency. The second point is I remember back more than a decade ago, one guy tried to sneak a bomb onto an airplane in his shoes. And ever since then, every one of us before we can get an on a commercial airline flight has to take our shoes off so they could be x rayed to make sure it's not a shoe bomb. Nobody died as a result of the shoe bomber because he failed. Yet we willingly take off our shoes at the TSA checkpoint so we can get on an airplane. Yet we won't do something as simple as wearing some of us won't do something as simple as wearing a mask to protect ourselves and to protect others from a virus that has killed now in 280,000 Americans nearly 9000 Michiganders alone and according to all the projections from the scientists who know what's going on, is likely to get worse before it gets better because of the Christmas holiday and the pandemic the second wave on top of the second wave that was created by Thanksgiving.


Walt Sorg  09:40

My third point is that a lot of our legislative bodies mostly I must say are that are led by Republicans are MIA we had God knows how many hearings on Benghazi were for Americans very tragically died in an incident that the hearing showed we probably couldn't have been prevented. But it was four people. We can't let all these restaurants go out of business. We can't let all these hospitality workers lose their jobs permanently. We've got to pay these these hospitality businesses and these restaurants, which are basically small, entrepreneurial businesses, people who provide entry level employment for literally millions of Americans. They've got to be paid to stay shut. That is what needs to happen more than anything else. And the only place that that can happen is with the resources of the United States government. Gretchen Whitmer is looking wherever she can to find a few nickels to throw at the problem. But state government's got to balance its budget. It can't borrow money to deal with this pandemic, the federal government's in a position to do something about it. The federal government needs to act and the federal government's not acting and has an act. It's so far for one two word reason. Mitch McConnell. I'm done. End of rant.


Christine Barry  10:53

There'll be another one next week,


Walt Sorg  10:55

not next week, I'll probably be later in the pod, I'll have another read. Because I'm really getting I'm getting, I'm getting really, you know, it's personal for me to you know, I'm in that higher risk group, I'll probably be one of the first people to get the vaccine because I'm an old, decrepit man. But, you know, I'm debating right now do I want to drive down I 69, and quarantine myself at my daughter's house. So I can spend Christmas with my grandkids for a couple of days. I'm honestly afraid to even do that, even though the only people I will see during the trip will be my grandkids. My step daughter, her husband and my wife, those are the only people in the house, there won't be any strangers in there. Yet still, I'm having serious doubts about whether that is something that I want to do. And I'm not even financially impacted by the COVID-19 in a bad way. I have friends who are losing their businesses, because they can't open up, they understand the responsible thing to do is not to open up. But they are so frustrated. And God bless them. I understand why they're frustrated, because it's not their fault. And everything they've worked their entire lives to build could be destroyed by this virus. And yet, you've got the United States Senate basically sitting on its thumbs.


Christine Barry  12:02

Yeah, I mean, that's just because that's what mitch mcconnell wants to happen. And some people will blame it on Nancy Pelosi. And at this point, I'm not sure I care who you blame it on. I personally think that, you know, Trump's leadership on this whole thing was, well, it wasn't really a leadership at all. But the fact is that the government has failed us. And I was self employed for a long time, I owned a storefront, downtown Owosso, so it was a computer shop. And then from there, I went on to consulting as an independent network engineer, and then ended up leaving that so that I could actually be employed and have benefits and stuff. Because Yeah, I kind of got tired of the hustle. And there's a lot of reasons I did it. If I was still in that business, though, which I loved, which I absolutely love, I would, I would have lost my house by now for sure. I don't know what I would have done well, that would have been my whole life. And even though now you can do things like you can do network engineering remotely, it wouldn't matter because my customers are places that need to be open, and have people coming in and you know, being able to do things. So I understand that. But then, as I mentioned earlier, again, about the school board, and I bring this up a lot, because it's just such a big part of how I think about the pandemic. I just had a conversation with our superintendent the other day, he's like, you know, I'm getting all this feedback about people not wanting to bring the kids back. And here's what all these other schools are doing. And many of them are just staying closed. Well, remote learning, many of them standing remote learning, no face to face, until the third week of January. But we could bring the high schoolers back, or even the little kids back in December, but many parents don't want us to do that. Because it's right before the holidays.


Christine Barry  13:52

You know, and as a board member, I said, Listen, you're the superintendent, you talk to the health department, I trust you what what do you think and, and he says, I don't know what to do. The little kids have to come back. They need as much face time with the adults as they can get. I can keep the high school kids out and bring back K through seven. And so we go through these conversations, Walton, it's been this way since March, since March, when when we got that first column said Should I close down the school this this pandemic is crazy. And then two hours later, Governor Whitmer did it for us, thank God because school districts boards of education made up for people like me, Well, I'm not a health expert. They're all struggling with this stuff. We need somebody to stand up and say this is what you should do. And not only should you do it, but here is everything that we have to offer you to make sure that your livelihood is protected, that you can stay in your homes that you get the health care you need. Here is everything we can do to help you until the economy can open back up and we get this virus under control.


Christine Barry  14:56

I'm of two minds about the whole thing. I understand the despair and the desire to get back out there. But it's a community spread and it has to stop. And at some point we have to stop saying, Yeah, but that that person who died had comorbidities Yeah, but look at how many people are surviving. I'm tired of having to tell people yeah, this was a healthy young person who died in order for them to register in their minds. Oh my god. This is this is an actual bad virus.


Walt Sorg  15:24

There is, of course, the light at the end of the tunnel, but it is a long dark tunnel. Multiple vaccines appear to be effective, but state health director Johnny Khaldoon cautions us that for most Michiganders and most Americans actually getting vaccinated is still many months away.


Joneigh Khaldun  15:41

Please know that we will not promote this vaccine in Michigan, unless the science is clear that it is safe and effective. The United States has the most respected scientists and experts in vaccines who are reviewing this data, and they will not recommend approval unless the data shows that is it is acceptable. When this vaccine hopefully becomes available later this month. We want to make sure that those who are most critical to keeping our healthcare system functioning are central workers, and those who are most vulnerable to getting severely ill from COVID-19 get this vaccine. And as more supply becomes available, eventually the general public will be able to get the vaccine as well.


Christine Barry  16:26

Right. There are two challenges to getting the state and the nation vaccinated. First, there's the logistics of manufacturing and distributing 700 million doses of vaccine and secondly, public willingness to get vaccinated. The most recent Gallup poll showed 42% of those responding said they would not get vaccinated. In response. former presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton all announced that they will get vaccinated in front of TV cameras as soon as they are eligible. No, they aren't jumping to the head of the line. And in an interview with CNN, President Elect Biden said he will do the same


Joe Biden  17:03

people have lost faith in the ability of the vaccine to work already. The numbers are really, staggeringly low. And the matters were the president and vice president do. And so I think that my three predecessors have set the the model as to what should be done saying once it's declared to be safe, and then I think Barack said once Fauci says it's clear, that's that's my measure, then obviously, we take this important to communicate to the American people, it's safe, it's safe to do this.


Walt Sorg  17:34

Just for the record. I said three or four weeks ago, when Fauci says it's okay, I take the vaccine, too. So I'm in good company, at least,


Christine Barry  17:41

you know, I one thing I have been thinking about all year, actually, but now, especially now that we're going to have an actual thoughtful President, I think the President, the Vice President, and, you know, our leadership at that level, should get the vaccine if it's safe, and it's effective. I mean, their health should be protected. That's a national security issue. And the other point I want to make is the the people, those, those 42%, who said they didn't want to get vaccinated, that's primarily about a concern about the rush to development of that vaccine. And they just don't, they aren't sure if it's safe, so they want to see if it's safe. And then of course, you have that small percentage of people who just don't trust the vaccines in general. That's kind of what that's about. I I wouldn't mind getting it. I'm not afraid of vaccines in general. I've had vaccines on my life. But I do want to talk to my doctor first and make sure my doctor thinks it's safe because I have that liver condition. And so when my doctor says it's safe and of course when I'm eligible for it, I would totally do it. But there's part of me that says you never download the first version of an operating system. You never buy the first model of a car.


Walt Sorg  18:53

It's very noticeable that missing from that list of prominent leaders who has committed to taking the vaccine on TV are Donald Trump and Mike Pence. Their silence is deafening.


Walt Sorg  19:12

Hurry, hurry, hurry, the Rudy Giuliani circus comes to down much to the delight of Jimmy Kimmel, Jimmy Fallon and Stephen Colbert, not to mention the writers of Saturday Night Live. We'll talk about that in a second. State House Republicans basically gave the once respected former mayor of New York more than four hours to lob unending gossip, speculation, conspiracy theories and flat out lies misstating, multiple Michigan laws and election practices and missing really any evidence of fraud. Committee Chair Matt Hall, who's a first term lawmaker from Western Michigan, basically turned control of his meeting over to Giuliani who tried to play the part of a prosecuting attorney as he interviewed a handful of alleged witnesses, but only after Hall refused to put any of these so called witnesses under oath. a move that was repeatedly questioned by Detroit's Democrats, Cynthia Johnson, who's the democratic vice chair of the committee,


Cynthia Johnson  20:06

these people, our guests are sharing information just sharing and sharing and speaking and speaking. No one is under oath. There are the world is watching us right now. All right. So


Matt Hall  20:21

representative, I just want to remind you, I think it was the purpose of today's hearing to hear from people across Michigan who witness things at the TCF Center. Today, we've invited Mr. Giuliani and Mr. Giuliani as brought forward witnesses that he says have first hand knowledge of fraud. That's what we are doing today.


Cynthia Johnson  20:44

And id we want to find out –


Matt Hall  20:47

let me finish – if you want to do other hearings, we're doing more hearings. But today, we're here to hear from these people. So do you have a question? For these witnesses?


Cynthia Johnson  20:57

No, Ihave some concerns. Well, many concerns, and I wanted to share with you –


Matt Hall  21:02

you out of order what the concerns are point of order.


Cynthia Johnson  21:08

point of order, is to have them under oath.


Matt Hall  21:12

You're out of order. As I've said, this is something that is not done here in this state.


Walt Sorg  21:19

Actually, it is it's been done for years and years and years in the legislature when they had witnesses come in on very sensitive topics like this, but representative halls a newcomer to Lansing,  He probably didn't know that I don't think he was lying. He just was totally misinformed, which is one of the problems with term limits. But that's another conversation altogether.


Christine Barry  21:37

And with that the Rudy show was on his star witness who had been called non credible uncork was the bourbon republican zealot Melissa korone. her testimony was reminiscent of an SNL skit


Walt Sorg  21:50

actually was the precursor of an SNL skit.


Christine Barry  21:52

I know it and Cecily Strong's character, the girl you wish you hadn't started a conversation with that was bang on?


Walt Sorg  22:02

Yeah, it's amazing. Cecily strong was brilliant. And this is actually going to be Melissa Carone naturally strong, because I think Melissa Quran actually, if you don't care about the future of our country was much funnier.


Mellissa Carone  22:13

The poll book is completely off. completely off, that. I'd say that poll book is off by over 100,000. That poll book, why don't you look at the registered voters on there? How many registered voters are on there? Did you do you even know the answer to that? 00. zero.  what about what about how what about the turnout? Right, 120%.


Steve Johnson  22:53

So the poll book number. Okay, there's two things that could happen here. Either the poll book number, if bathroom caught him multiple, multiple times, there's two options. Option number one is that the poll book numbers are not going to match. They don't the actual, not by thousands and thousands of votes that we see right now


Mellissa Carone  23:12

you take a look again, one, take a look again,


Steve Johnson  23:14

option number two is that they essentially were filling in names of people who didn't vote


Mellissa Carone  23:19

that dad people too.


Steve Johnson  23:27

my question is why we're not seeing the poll book hop by 30,000 votes. That's nothing. What


Mellissa Carone  23:32

did you guys do take and do something crazy to it?


Steve Johnson  23:37

I'm just saying the numbers are not off at 30,000 votes. So I know when I saw their filling, I know


Mellissa Carone  23:43

what I saw. And I signed something saying that if I'm wrong, I can go to prison. Did you?


Walt Sorg  23:50

Oh my God, oh, my god,


Christine Barry  23:53

these people. I could sign an affidavit that says I saw the Lorax coming to come into Detroit and change all the ballots for Trump back into trees and sign that affidavit and hand it over. And it has as much validity as her stupid affidavit does. The difference is an actual lawyer would look at it and say, Okay, I'm not going to take that into court. I would never get in trouble for it.


Walt Sorg  24:22

We can't get into all the fact checking from that for hours. It's impossible. I know. We get a lot of links to it. Jesus. What's amazing is even the most conservative newspaper in the state, editorially, The Detroit News, just as item after item after item that was pure bs from the Giuliani performance. And there's the probably the best article is in bridge was put together mostly by friend of the pod Jonathan Oosting, who did a tremendous job just fact checking, in fact check and we'll put the links on there if you're interested. But basically everything that Ms. korone said in that extended soundbite was pure baloney. She may believe it but it's simply isn't true it what it demonstrates, among other things, a lot of the testimony people saw things they thought was wrong. But it was because they don't understand the process. They said, Well, I saw ballots that came in, that they were checking the signatures. Well, by the time they arrived at the county place, the signatures had already been checked someplace else. So they didn't duplicate the effort. Because that's how the system works. When you there's a very concise system for processing of ballots, and they don't understand the whole thing. They see just their little piece of it. And when they see something outside of that little tunnel vision view that they have, they say, Well, that doesn't look right. Well, it's because it's out of ignorance. They say that not because there's anything wrong going on. And the other irony too Melissa Corona, who I wanted to call Karen, for some reason, the legislators she was trying to humiliate and that given take, Representative Steve Johnson is considered one of the most conservative members of the House. He was kind of on her side. But to his credit, I don't think Steve Johnson is nuts. And I'm not I'm a little concerned about her.


Christine Barry  25:58

Was she hammered? I don't know if she sounded hammered. And I think I could hear her in that audio clip. I think I could hear her head bouncing around like water sloshing around inside of it.


Walt Sorg  26:12

She was having a great time. She figured, oh, I'm going to tell these people what I think of them, and I don't care what they think. And then you have another witness whose primary testimony was that we need stronger voter id because she couldn't all Chinese people look the same to her. Are all Asian people look the same to her? She was she's an Indian American. She says, Well, a lot of people think we all look alike. Well, I think they all look alike. Wow. Those are his star witnesses.


Christine Barry  26:40

you know, again, this is a case where we're giving somebody ignorance as much weight as actual truth. And, you know, for this lady who said, you know, a “Chow” could come in and vote and I wouldn't have any idea. Like, I don't know how quite she said that. But it was stupid. You know, she doesn't seem to know about affidavits of identity.


Walt Sorg  27:03

Rudy didn't either.


Christine Barry  27:05

the fact that you don't know that is not only not only should not be my problem, but it also should not be something that takes up the House of Representatives time,


Walt Sorg  27:15

Rudy was given the final word by chairman of the committee Hall, and he was allowed to make a speech wrapping up his conspiracy theories, and hinting that Michigan legislators should overturn the vote of the people and direct Michigan's electoral votes to the candidate who lost the state by 154,000 votes. Here's a little bit of Rudy's rambling statement.



Is it possible to to use yutes –


Speaker  27:40

Oh, what was that word?



What word?


Speaker  27:45

two What?





Speaker  27:47

did you say yutes?



Yeah, two yutes?


Speaker  27:51

What is a yute?



Oh, excuse me your honor, two youths


Walt Sorg  27:57

Yeah, the opacity of that play Sorry, wrong soundbite This is the actual soundbite of Rudy Giuliani,


Rudy Giuliani  28:04

you have a responsibility to go into session. Take back your look, the people who certify your election. What are they worth? I want to put my name on that piece of paper. Not worth any of that that piece of paper is a lie. We all know it's a lie. We know the figures there aren't correct. They're such wonderful public servants. They put their name on a lie. Why don't you spend the time to find out what the right numbers should be?


Christine Barry  28:33

Why are we continuing this obscene fiction that the election was rigged?


Walt Sorg  28:37

It was at the county level where this election was certified. And at the county level, you have Republicans and Democrats at their boards of canvassers in the counties you have Republicans and Democrats who are the county clerks are responsible for sending those returns into the state. At the state level. You have Republicans or Democrats on the state boards of canvassers. It is not a democratic plot to cheat any more than it was in the state of Georgia, which is run by Republicans you had on the Sunday shows you had the republican lieutenant governor and the republican Secretary of State basically saying that what the President is saying about the election, there is total baloney and saying the election was fair, it was not rigged and we got the we got it right even though we're not happy with the result. It's not our job to be happy with it. It's our job to count the votes in certified Arizona also with Republican governor and yet it's certified there, Wisconsin with with the control of Republicans and Democrats have their process. It's just it's totally nonsensical.


Christine Barry  29:34

Now, the reality of the election, according to all the Republicans and Democrats who run elections, as well as Michigan Secretary of State is that Michigan's record setting election came off without a hitch.


Jocelyn Benson  29:45

The guiding light of all of this has been like democracy has actually worked, despite what those who are disappointed in the results may want people to believe we actually had record breaking turnout on both sides of the aisle. More people voted by mail success or voted From Home successfully absentee than ever before in our state 3.3 million, and only 15,000 ballots were received in a way that would make them uncountable and notably, it time where we were really worried about the Postal Service delaying ballots, we saw actually a decrease in the rate of percentage of ballots were arriving late over past elections, which was because we installed drop boxes, but essentially, everything worked actually was an extraordinary success.


Walt Sorg  30:29

One benefit of the circus, Donald Trump and the republican national committee have raised a staggering $207 million after losing the election, continuing to barrage the faithful with multiple fundraising email appeals every day, all of them focused around the cost of the legal challenges to the election. But most of the money actually going into a political action committee. That's basically a Donald Trump slush fund that he can use not just for future political expenses, but it can use for his living expenses, he continued to have other people pay for his golf and pour money into his resorts, and his hotel rooms and his dining halls and his banquet halls. And it is just it is it is he's finally found the grift that will just keep on giving. It is amazing that after all these years, Trump who's had multiple bankruptcies and casinos, and he said the joys of Trump University and so many other griffes, multi level marketing schemes and everything else. Now, he's finally sort of found something that works and works really well and will also keep him relevant to a sizable portion of Americans as the Biden presidency begins, and to his never ending shame. He's not going to show up at the inauguration of the new president of the United States. He'll be the first outgoing president in more than a century to do that, you know, Hillary Clinton showed up at his inauguration even though she was she was disgusted by it. Al Gore showed up willingly and very positively, at the inauguration of George W. Bush after everything that went on in Florida. That is just the way it is done in this country. But Donald Trump doesn't give a damn about this country. It is all about Donald Trump, it just I just find it absolutely horrific.


Christine Barry  32:08

Donald Trump just sees everything through this filter of who is equal, or are they inferior, and he believes Hillary Clinton was inferior, which I think is why he had all those horrible people, Ted Nugent, Kid Rock, whatever pose under her picture when he was first inaugurated, he believes that Joe Biden is so inferior, it's not possible to have lost to this inferior person. And he acts that out. And I don't think there are too many people, I've, I don't think of anybody there that I think is inferior to me. But there are people I wouldn't want to be with. But if my job required it, even if it was just the standard that has been set for a long time, and it wasn't written down in the Constitution of all things, I still think that I would care enough about that job to, you know, respect it. I just can't believe this idiot got elected. You know, at one point, you would see all these people come out and start to say, Yeah, I voted for Trump. And it was a mistake. And, and some of my friends would say, you know, we shouldn't we shouldn't be too hard on these people. They just made a mistake. And I felt like, I don't feel sorry for you at all. Because these stories when they came out and said they made a mistake, it was because they personally had felt a hardship. As like, normally I would care about that. But you knew who that man was when you voted for him. And I cannot feel sorry for you. And this ongoing grift I almost feel sorry for for the people sending him money. But I still can't because they're part of this huge fraud. This this huge stain on America and on American democracy. And the the just the aspersions that they're casting on all of these people. Look at Rudy Giuliani talked about the people who certified the ballots. Look at how Karen korone whatever her name is, who by the way I just heard this morning has a sex tape. Oh my god. Anyway, look at how she talked to that representative and I'm no fan of Steve Johnson. But he was at least treating her with respect. And she was they basically had her finger in his face the way she was talking to just just disgusting behavior. Disgusting claims. I gotta tell you one more thing. I am getting sick of people talking about Michigan this way because I like Jocelyn Benson. I think she's one of the most qualified secretaries of state we've ever had. And definitely in the last 25 years, look who we had Candace Miller? fraud, Terry? land idiot, Johnson hack. I mean, we've had some real partisan hacks in office. And Jocelyn Benson is somebody who is just an expert in this area. I hate that this is going down on her watch, although I'm glad she's in office, because I feel like if anyone can stand up to this kind of BS, it's her.


Walt Sorg  34:55

Yeah. I would disagree with you on Candace. Candace Miller. I think she was actually A pretty good Secretary of State for the republicans. And before that, of course, you had Richard Austin, who was an absolute saint, as Secretary of State for for many years. But Jocelyn Benson is, is so exceptional as the Secretary of State, she's looked on as a national leader amongst her peers. And that soundbite we had earlier was actually from a small Facebook group that just got together to say thank you to her because she's been under so much of a challenge and so much pressure for the last few weeks, and she's handled it with such grace and such a non partisan judgment. She is not making partisan judgments. Her total goal is to run an accurate election, where as many people who are eligible as possible to get the opportunity to vote, and every one of those votes is counted. She was a professor of election law and the Dean of the law school at Wayne State University before she was elected Secretary of State she's one of the nation's leading experts on election law. And she didn't testify at that hearing. And the person in Michigan who probably knows more about running Michigan elections than Jocelyn Benson, is Chris Thomas, who served as the head of the elections Bureau in the Department of State for decades. And he served under both parties. Nobody ever questioned him Republicans or Democrats. He was totally admired for his expertise and for his fair handedness of elections. And he was there in Detroit when all this was going down. And they should have heard from him because Chris Thomas actually knows what the law is. And he said it was a clean, clean, clean election. Let's move on a little bit at least.


Walt Sorg  36:26

There's open civil war in the Republican Party between the never Trump crowd which includes the Lincoln project and Republicans, for Biden, amongst others. And then there is the Trump is the Savior crowd which seems to be the law much, much larger group in the Republican Party right now. Democrats have an abnormally cohesive during all this not having our normal circular firing squad, Joe Biden managed to unite the modern progressive wings of the party can it continue? To find out we're joined by the leader of the progressive wing of Michigan democrats 2018, Gubernatorial Candidate Dr. Abdul el Sayed. He's the author of healing politics, a doctor's journey into the heart of our political epidemic. Dr. Al Sayed. We talk politics and we talk health a huge intersection these days. Let's start first with the politics. And that is the truce, it seems like between the various various wings of the Democratic Party, the conservatives, the moderates, and the progressives all seem to come together in the general election. Is that an uneasy truce? What's going to happen in the new year?


Abdul El-Sayed  37:30

Well, I think we all recognize the obvious need to to address the clear and present danger. That was Donald Trump. And I think you saw folks come together, you know, across the Democratic Party, frankly, across parts, the republican party to defeat him. I do think that there are some serious policy differences that that folks across the party have. And what I am seeing is that Vice President, assuming that President Elect Biden is, is doing what he can to try and really capture all aspects of that that potential political coalition to turn into a potential governing coalition. And to to recognize that leading in this time of COVID, in this time of financial challenge, in this time of, frankly, instability of people's trust in our democratic norms and more because of Donald Trump, that that will require all of us to come together, sit at the table and go shit out any differences into the forward also, a lot of that depends on what happens in Georgia, in January, right, these these runoff elections will fundamentally decide whether or not any of the legislative goals that the Biden administration has can be achieved in the Senate. And so this really does require holding together a coalition that does have some, some some real differences among it. But I think all of us agree that taking down the pandemic, empowering people's access to health care taking on climate change, and right sizing the economy are critical goals, the question of how you do it, that's that's where I think there may be some differences. But it's gonna take everyone's thoughts at the table to get done.


Walt Sorg  39:20

You bring up the election in Georgia, I was thinking that even if the democrats are successful and taking those two seats and maintain a very slim control the senate 5050 plus salute to the Vice President's tie breaking vote, that the control center is gonna belong to a bipartisan group of senators, a couple of Republicans, a couple of Democrats are right in the middle on the Democratic side, Joe Manchin. JOHN tester, perhaps Mark Kelly from Arizona on the Republican side, Mitt Romney, Lisa Murkowski, Susan Collins, how much can Joe Biden get done in that in with that kind of political mix for even if democrats do have the majority


Abdul El-Sayed  40:00

Well, I think that even if Democrats have the majority, you're right, that there is going to be a very thin Hold on, on power. And it's going to require holding together a coalition. That being said, I think that this moment and the mandate that Joe Biden received at the ballot box, and the fact that there are clear and present dangers that we have to address, given the pandemic, in the economy, and also climate change, that there is going to be a lot more capacity to lead from the White House legislatively, that we might have seen under, under less extraordinary circumstances, right, when you're in crisis, and you're the president of the United States and you're trying to clean up the mess that the past republican president just left for you, I do think you have a pretty wide leeway to be able to drive forward and to to to rely upon the goodwill of the American people, particularly in the two years after they just gave you that, that mandate to lead. And so I think that the obvious need to take on the pandemic, the obvious need to, to to to empower people in their lives, given the economic consequences of the pandemic, and the obvious need to rebuild some of the trust that's been lost in our politics and in our government. I think those things are pretty strong forcing functions, and can be used to bring people to go together and to drive forward.


Walt Sorg  41:35

Before we get to the policy. One more question on the politics a little bit. Rachel Maddow likes to say watch what they do not what they say. Are you satisfied so far with what they've done with the lead up to the Biden Harris administration?


Abdul El-Sayed  41:51

I think the transition has been extremely ordinary or orderly. And I think that they've tried the hardest to maneuver a lot of the competing interests across across the spectrum, obviously, you know, I come from a particular viewpoint, and you know, I supported Bernie Sanders in the primary, I got to sit on the Biden Sanders taskforce that put together the health care platform that they ultimately ran on. And, you know, that's given me an inside look both into, you know, what, what, how they're thinking about trying to maintain and lead a coalition together, and also, what some of the challenges on either side of that discussion are going to be. And, you know, obviously, I have a particular look on it. You know, if I, if I had my druthers, we'd have a an a, a cabinet that was that probably look more like something that Bernie Sanders was put together. But at the same time, I also know that they are, they're trying to leave from the coalition that got them there and other coalition that can get some things done. And as you mentioned, right, we really are on a knife's edge when it comes to this political moment. So I think they've done a great job in terms of structuring the transition, particularly considering the fact that Trump and the Trump administration, you know, took a couple weeks off the clock there. They have made some really, really thoughtful decisions. You know, I think Janet Yellen at Treasury Secretary is is a phenomenal choice, I think, the choice of the chief of staff and Ron Klain, someone who led the Ebola response back in 2014, is a really, really great choice. And so, you know, I think they are within the confines and the challenges that they have, really threading the needle as well as they possibly can. And, you know, it's going to take this is politics, it's going to take a negotiation of the different voices in views to yield a a cabinet that that is representative that the President Elect and the Vice President Elect feel like they can move forward and achieve some of the goals that they ran on.


Walt Sorg  44:00

Let's move into your wheelhouse, which is public health policy, as former health director of the city of Detroit, medical doctor yourself an expert in the area of epidemiology seems like the biggest problem that we've got right now with the pandemic is public trust public acceptance, the vaccines on its way, that's pretty clear. We can stop this thing. We know how to stop this thing. But it's not being stopped. How do we bridge that gap when you've got still a sizable minority of this country that doesn't believe one that there's a problem or two that things like masks and social distancing really makes sense?


Abdul El-Sayed  44:37

I'll tell you this, you know, when the pandemic has shown us is that this is not just a healthcare crisis. This is a government crisis. And when I say government crisis, I mean the capacity in our society to do collective action for public good. And, you know, you can't argue with science you can't argue with facts like this is a pandemic, you talk to any doctor or nurse or hospital worker and ask them if They think that COVID-19 is it doesn't doesn't really exist, they'll point to the beds that are now full in their hospitals that people who are dying, who came in with a little trouble breathing that then leave, unfortunately, in a body bag like this is the truth of this pandemic. And you can't argue with 276,000 people who died. That being said, right, for a lot of us this is this, this search is the first time that that the pandemic had been front center. And we had a real challenge with the way that the pandemic played out, because, you know, we responded to that first surged back in March, April and May, in the right way, right, shutting things down mitigating spread, but in a lot of communities, the truth of COVID-19 didn't hit them, because it was worst in, in some of the bigger cities that are internationally connected. Now, over the summer, it's had the opportunity to spread into all of these communities and this search that's now being driven by changing in weather patterns, and the fact that people are not going inside and spending more time indoors, that's now leaving the consequences to be dealt with in local communities all over the country. And so I think people are coming front and center.


Abdul El-Sayed  46:14

That being said, it has been so politicized in the interim, right? In a moment where a lot of rural folks did not see COVID-19 for what it was early on. They felt like this pandemic was much ado about nothing, because they didn't see it front and center. And now they're starting to see it. But the politics have taken hold, you know, driven by Donald Trump in in folks like him who are trying to turn masks into a referendum on, on freedom. And that's just not that is that is that is not consistent with the science. It's not consistent with, you know, trying to protect yourself and people around you, and what is ultimately happened and not been able to model the kind of public attitude and the kind of the kind of, you know, cultural recognition and agreement on this issue that we need to do everything we can to protect ourselves and to decide that we are going to put the most important aspect functions of our society first, you know, the notion that bars and clubs and restaurants be open. But you know, it's school shouldn't be that that is a problem. And so, you know, we're, we're yielding to pressures on one side, to keep businesses open. And I certainly fully agree that we need to watch out for our businesses and protect them. But that is that if that leads to the kind of spread that enforces schools to close ins that our children aren't able to learn in a safe and healthy environment. And so I think this is this this sort of public goods, this public acknowledgement of the circumstances that we face, the trade offs, that we have to engage in a moment, that that hasn't been there for us, and it is left us the most affected country in the world, when it comes to when it comes to the, you know, the the kind of consequences both for public health and in the economy. And it is really frustrating, right? Because we didn't have to be here we could have made a different set of choices. And that reminds us that leadership matters and politics that decries government and decries public goods, leads us in a place or to a place where, where Unfortunately, there's unnecessary suffering and a drawn out of the consequences.


Walt Sorg  48:31

Based on history, there are some good reasons why many African Americans are suspect of anti vaccination program. Also, you've got the problem with the infrastructure in the cities, which is delivering the vaccine. Do you see a coalition developing with it really focuses on Detroit and getting you trade vaccinated over the next six months?


Abdul El-Sayed  48:52

Well, you know, we've got to be completely honest, as you said, Walt about the facts here is that there's a lot of distrust among African Americans in the African American community with, with the biomedical establishment because of Tuskegee, because of a whole history of disrespect and robbing of basic dignities and rights. And even today, you know, our health care system does not treat black and brown people equitably in the ways that we would want that being said, this vaccine is going to be critical to stopping this pandemic. And the only way that we are able to get this vaccine out to folks and turn vaccines into vaccinations, right your shots in the arm is by building public trust. And that means transparency with respect to the science, which is already happening, but also it means building relationships with key folks across different institutions, folks that you know, it traditionally government hasn't always partnered with, you know, folks like church leaders and block club captains.


Abdul El-Sayed  49:56

And so I see that forming and I think it's going to be Critical goal of the Biden and Harris administration to be able to build a grassroots, both bottom up and top down system of delivery of the vaccine to turn it into vaccinations. And well, that's what I want to make about that is that, you know, we've done the first work of creating of that. And that really is I don't want to take anything away from really the technological marvel and the scientific marvel of going from having a disease nobody had ever seen before, just about a year ago to having a safe and effective vaccine. I mean, that that really is it's mind boggling when you think about how fast science has moved here. But that's the first step right? Getting from vaccine to vaccination requires a lot of political work requires a lot of money, a lot of cultural work, a lot of logistical work, and a lot of political work in terms of building relationships, and moving what we know and understand about this vaccine to folks, building those relationships of trust and reciprocity, and being able to, to deliver that vaccine into communities that need it.


Abdul El-Sayed  51:02

So I'm seeing that on the ground work happening in Detroit, it really is heartening, but this is going to be a long term effort, it's not going to be something that that just happens overnight. And we have to understand why there might be some hesitation that folks have about taking a vaccine for a disease that didn't even exist a year ago. And rather than meet that with force, or meet that with, with consternation or frustration, we need to meet that with empathy and understanding and do the work of building those relationships, sharing that science repeating the message. And, and those of us who are part of the biomedical establishment, you know, being front and center to answer questions, but also lead with by example, right, you know, I'm planning when I get my COVID-19 vaccine to do it on video live. So, you know, the folks who pay attention to my work, will know that I'm literally putting my shoulder where my mouth is,


Walt Sorg  51:56

well, a lot of people still do pay a whole lot of attention to your work. And unlike some people who have lost elections in the last few years, but are still were considered political superstars, you've actually got very loyal and very large constituency. was 2018, your last election?


Abdul El-Sayed  52:17

You know, I can't answer that, honestly, because one can't see the future. But I can't tell you that I, I do think that at some point, I probably will run again, I don't know when I don't know, for what I, you know, to me, the work that brought me to politics is in overwhelming sense that we as a society can do so much better in building out a set of systems that truly do nurture, and empower everybody. We have a profound amount of inequality in our country, we, we have a lot of pain because of that. And I wrote in my book, healing politics about this epidemic of insecurity that I think we need to address so that we can come together and have a sense of collective purpose around around where we go from from this moment, we don't have to be so polarized and we don't have to accept the system where you have to fight someone to get your health care or have to worry about why your kids school looks the same way it did 30 years ago. And that is what brought me to politics. And it's what you know, as as animated, the work that I've done, both in public health and in public service. And I think we'll continue to animate that work. So you know, whether that means running for office sometime in the future, that means, you know, continuing to work in an advocacy and educational rule. You know, we'll see what the world holds. But I'm a father to a three year old, and a good friend of mine reminded me said, Look, you know, there are a lot of folks who can be a governor or congressperson. There's nobody else who's going to be your daughter's dad. So, you know, I just I balance those choices against knowing that at some point, my, my little girl will not be as excited to see me walk into the door, and I want to savor and enjoy those moments as much as I can.


Walt Sorg  54:03

I'll take that as a firm, maybe. I would point out that the guy who finished a distant third in the Democratic primary for Governor 2018 tree, Canada is going to be a member of the legislature beginning in January. And I personally think you'd be a very valuable additional voice in the state legislature in the Senate or the House, just to bring your expertise and your passion to it. So hopefully, you'll be running for office again. I look forward to having that happen.


Abdul El-Sayed  54:28

Well, it's kind of just saying I really appreciate your support. Walt.


Walt Sorg  54:32

Abdul El-Sayed, the the books doing very well. And we've got a link to it on our website if you want to pick up a copy well worth the read. Thanks so much for joining us on the fall, I guess.


Abdul El-Sayed  54:42

Yeah thank you Walt. I really appreciate you and your voice and taking the time to chat.


Christine Barry  54:52

And there's actually work going on with policy these days doesn't make the headlines. Freshly reelected representative Haley Steele of Oakland County has taken the lead in Congress on a major environmental challenge for the nation and the world, plastics. Plastic is everywhere, and there's no cohesive plan to deal with it. She's working to change that,


Haley Stevens  55:12

over the first year in Congress. Through my position on the Science Committee, I was able to hold the first hearing in almost 10 years on recycling technology. And what was fascinating out of that dam is we had private industry, we had municipal leaders, and we had researchers all saying the same thing about the needs for the need for standards. And then from there, I formed the plastic solutions Task Force, bipartisan Task Force, the way in which we need to do business in the United States of America, when we're looking at large challenges, big opportunities, bring all the stakeholders to the table, bring the companies to the table, I've got bottle manufacturers, I've got nonprofits who are a part of this task force, I've got Republicans and Democrats, because we know we want to get in front of this opportunity that we have, which is to create an enhanced a more robust recycling infrastructure in the United States of America, that doesn't leave behind what we see, when we were overly reliant on China. This is a job opportunity for us.


Walt Sorg  56:16

And this is a huge problem. Christine, I'm on our local public service board and recycling is a part of the public service program here in the city of Lansing. But everybody's having the same problem. That is what do you do with recycled plastics? Right now there's no cohesive plan to create a market for them to actually reuse them. And many of them are actually ending up in landfills anyway, even if you put it into a recycling bin. And that simply shouldn't happen. Not only is it bad for the environment, have all that plastic in the ocean and in the landfills forever and ever and ever. It's a problem with dwindling resources, could plastics come from oil. And at some point, the oil supply is going to run out. And we are basically using oil for we're burning a lot of it up still in cars. But that's coming to an end over the next 2030 years as the electric cars become more and more part of our lives. But also we're just with one use plastics is the same thing. Some of them have to be one use medical plastic, for the most part go have to be dealt with as medical waste. And they have to, they can only use it one time just out of safety. But so much of it can be reused if we have a cohesive plan to do that.


Christine Barry  57:20

And what I really like about this is that as we're using language like plastic waste crisis, which is what we have to recognize that we have here, and what she's put together is a strategic plan. There's numbers and funding in there. I don't know where it'll go. Probably a lot of that depends on what happens in Georgia in January. But I do hope it it is a bipartisan plan. And I hope we see some movement, at least on the crisis, even if we can't get her exact plan in place.


Walt Sorg  57:47

Okay, before we wrap things up this week, Christina, I'd like to take note of an excellent profile in the detroit news of Michigan democratic party chair lavora. Barnes, she has worked tirelessly to unite the party and strengthen it and to build a ground up party structure really built at the county level that pays full attention to local county and legislative races. But our biggest triumphed in 2020 was a statewide race and I wouldn't, I'm not going to say it was Gary Peters, but rather it was the election of Elizabeth Welch to the Michigan Supreme Court that gives democrats a four three majority on the court and is probably the most significant thing that the party was able to accomplish in Michigan other than the course carrying it for Joe Biden in 2020.


Christine Barry  58:24

And I'd like to close with a shout out to the K-pop world the white ends of the Korean boy K-pop world


Walt Sorg  58:31

a pop Okay, I'm sure that the the kids out there know what you're talking about.


Christine Barry  58:35

You know what so do you the Gen Xers and the boomers, I looked this up and this was weeks ago, because what they did last to Donald Trump, after they did it, I was like, I'm so impressed by these people. So I look them up. I don't understand it. But they're fans of the boy band BTS. You know, Korean pop became popular A long time ago. But this band has really just inspired so much social media activism that's turned into real life outcomes. So I look them up. And yeah, they've got fans of all ages. I don't understand it, but they're very passionate. And they've got politics on their mind. As they are activists. This time they took over the hashtag Biden cheated. You want to follow that hashtag and see all kinds of tweets making fun of Donald Trump. And the people who believe that Donald Trump, you know, had this election stolen from him, then you should follow that hashtag and you should thank the Kpop fans,


Walt Sorg  59:31

stands their first dabble into politics was really hilarious. They decided to make reservations for Donald Trump's first campaign live campaign rally the one in Tulsa after he decided to to heck with the pandemic. I'm going to have live rallies between them. They managed to generate 1 million ticket requests for that rally and can manage to convince the Trump campaign that the thing was going to be sold out they convinced Donald Trump is going to be sold out. And more than half the seats in the arena were empty. Trump was furious and has never recovered. Since And it was just good, clean, whole fun in the memory of Donald Segretti. And if you don't know who that name is, look him up on the Wikipedia.


Christine Barry  1:00:07

Well, they're amazing. I want to be one of them. But I don't like the music and I don't have the time. Okay. And that's it for this week's Michigan Policasgt because we've finally run out of time.


Walt Sorg  1:00:17

No, no, no, no, we never run out of time. our listeners may run out of time, but we don't run out of time.


Christine Barry  1:00:22

We have plenty more rants left. Yeah, yeah, there's plenty of background information on today's subjects. Remember, we do put out links for everything that we talked about. If you want more information, or you just want to fact check us go ahead and, and head over there. It's Michiganpolicast.com.


Walt Sorg  1:00:38

We do encourage your feedback. You can rent back at us at mipolicast@gmail.com or troll us on the Facebook page or even on Twitter. And if you could take a moment to review the pod on iTunes, that goes to Steve Jobs will thank you.


Walt Sorg  1:00:54

The Michigan polycast is a production of Michigan citizens for a better tomorrow.

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