COVID updates, Trump’s clown show. Charles Ballard on the economy, health care

December 14, 2020

Michigan Policast for Monday, December 14, 2020

  In this episode:

  • COVID-19 shutdowns, restrictions, vaccines
  • Dr Charles Ballard on the economy
  • Trump's rigged election scripted reality show
  • Political notes & attack ad of the week
  • Transcript



Jump to:

COVID-19 shutdowns, restrictions, vaccines





Under the extension, bars and restaurants must remain closed for dine-in service but can remain open for outdoor dining, carry-out and delivery.Colleges, universities and high schools will continue to go without in-person instruction, and high school sports will continue to be suspended. Casinos, movie theaters and group exercise classes will stay closed through Dec. 20 as two Detroit casinos reported in November they would lay off or furlough more than 2,700 employees combined. ~Source



Dr Charles Ballard on the economy


Trump's rigged election scripted reality show









Political notes & attack ad of the week








Walt Sorg  00:05

This is the Michigan Policast. We're all about Michigan politics and policy and the National stories impacting our pleasant peninsulas, you turn


Donald Trump  00:14

You turn on MSDN See, it turn on this network is COVID COVID COVID COVID. On November 4, you won't hear anything about it because we are rounding that turn.  You won't hear.


Charles Ballard  00:26

This week marked another tragic milestone in our fight against COVID-19. More than 3000 deaths in one single day, the highest single death count during this pandemic, as more deaths in a single day. And we saw on 911 or at Pearl Harbor, and the current director of the CDC said yesterday, we can expect similar numbers of deaths or more every single day for the next 60 to 90 days. We're in a teeth for crisis right now. And this nation needs presidential leadership right now. presidential leadership that is willing to model the steps we should be taking for our to save our own lives and lives of our families.


Walt Sorg  01:14

It's five weeks after the election, the President said would end the COVID discussion. And of course, just now the UPS and FedEx trucks are rolling out of Portage, Michigan, with the very first vials of vaccine. That's just the beginning of the end is sort of like D Day, we thought that was the end of World War Two. Well, it wasn't another year until the war ended. And that's where we're at right now.


Christine Barry  01:35

Um, Christine Barry. In Michigan, it appears the numbers have peaked as the governor continues strong, but controversial restrictions on indoor dining and small group gatherings. As Christmas approaches and vaccines start reaching us, the governor's health team warns against letting down our guard.  It's still going to be a rough winter.


Walt Sorg  01:53

Later in the pod. I'll be talking jobs and Michigan's economy with Michigan State University professor of economics Dr. Charles Ballard, and will track the latest efforts by Trump and his supporters to effectively ignore the results of Michigan's vote for President of the United States,


Gretchen Whitmer  02:09

more and more of our frontline health workers, our doctors and our nurses, our first responders who we rely on every day, to protect us, they're getting sick, they're unable to come into work because of the rapid spread of COVID-19. In all of our communities. We cannot risk overwhelming our hospitals further. And that's why our hospital systems implored the Department of Health and Human Services to extend the pause. And so we're going to give it 12 more days.


Christine Barry  02:37

The shutdown has been devastating for the restaurant industry and its workers, something the governor has recognized in part by calling for $100 million in state assistance for impacted businesses and laid off workers, but it's a pain that is necessary.


Gretchen Whitmer  02:52

The best way we can protect our frontline workers and slow the spread of this virus is to double down on mask wearing social distancing. And limiting indoor gatherings where people are at most at risk of transmission. Now there's overwhelming research and scientific data that says going to locations that offer on site eating and drinking options is associated with COVID-19 positivity. There are studies after studies that show this, we will have a link to them on social media in case you're interested in reading them. adults with positive COVID tests were approximately twice as likely to have reported dining at a restaurant and those who are negative. It's not anyone's fault. It's not the restaurants fault. It's not my fault. It's not Dr. J's fault or Director Gordon's fault. This is how COVID-19 spreads.


Christine Barry  03:48

The governor has extended the ban on indoor dining for 12 more days as the data indicate that Michigan's efforts to control the virus are working.


Walt Sorg  03:55

Yeah really is coming down quite a bit. The most recent report was Friday, December the 12th. Where the new cases reported was 4486. We peaked at more than 8000. About a week earlier. And I think the governor's got to take credit it is horrible. What is happening to restaurants especially but a lot of small businesses. But the fact remains that by having these stringent, very stringent crackdown still and restrictions on our activity, it is having an impact on the number count especially when you compare it to our surrounding states Indiana, Wisconsin and Illinois which do not have the restrictions we've got are just absolutely horrific right now, I've got a daughter who works at a hospital in Indiana and she says they are full up with COVID patients. In Michigan we're getting fuller but we are not full up by any means that any of the hospitals. So the death rate is beginning to plateau that that always trails the infection rate for the infection rates definitely coming down. Although it's still when you think about we were in the we were in the double digits last summer and now we're still over 4500


Christine Barry  05:01

Well, and we may still get an get an uptick due to Thanksgiving activity. Those numbers haven't fully come in yet. So we might see an increase there. And our deaths are averaging more than 100 per day in Michigan. And I just want to point that point out that if that was happening in a concentrated area, I think people would be much more receptive to wearing masks and maybe more supportive of these shutdowns. If you imagine like if you take my town Corunna, if we had those 100 deaths per day in my town, my town would be wiped out in about a month. So it would just be gone. So you have to think about in terms of who we're losing, like how many people we're losing, my heart goes out to all the people who are suffering economically, the small businesses, the restaurants, we definitely need to help them out.


Walt Sorg  05:52

Naturally, we're getting to the point now where every day the deaths equal 10 jumbo jets crashing every day. Every day, more than 3000 deaths to 3000 people died on 911. And that turned the country upside down for the next 20 years. And beyond that, and right now it's happening day after day after day. I don't know if people are becoming immune to it, because unless it affects them directly. I know it had our family, my whole family's caught the virus thankfully, everybody is recovering. And even. Thankfully for me, I didn't catch it at all, because we were very careful about spreading it amongst each other. But I've seen firsthand now just like Rachel Maddow saw with with her partner, how devastating this diseases even when it's not fatal, it is a really, really ugly disease. And I'm just so thankful that in our case, it did not require hospitalization. And it did not result obviously in the passing of anybody in our family. for a few days. My wife was sickly, sickly ill, and it was really bad. And I don't wish this on anybody yet. I know people who know people who themselves have even become infected, who still believe this whole thing is an overblown hoax. And that's part of the problem we've gotten. Of course, that problem starts in the White House with the guy who's more interested in playing golf and in filing stupid lawsuits hither and yon than he really is in stopping the deaths.


Christine Barry  07:12

Well, I too, am grateful that you were not affected directly Walt, and that your wife is getting better. Yeah. The governor's comments were echoed by President Elect Biden who unlike the president tweeter is focused on the pandemic and doing what we can immediately to reduce deaths even as the inoculations ramp up,


Charles Ballard  07:32

my first 100 days will end the COVID-19 virus. I can't promise that. But we did not get into this mess quickly. We're not going to get out of it quickly. It's going to take some time. But I'm absolutely convinced that in 100 days, we can change the course of the disease, and change life in America. for the better. We need your help wear a mask for just 100 days. It's easy thing you can do to reduce COVID cases, hospitalizations and death. Help yourself, your family and your community. mask up for 100 days once we take office 100 days to make a difference. It's not a political statement. It's a patriotic act. Secondly, this team will help get at least 100 million COVID vaccine shots into the arms of the American people in the first 100 days. This will be the most efficient mass vaccination plan in US history. Developing a vaccine is only one Herculean task, distributing it is another Herculean task. This would be one of the hardest, the most costly operational challenges in our nation's history. We're gonna need Congress to fully fund vaccine distribution to all corners of the country to everyone.


Walt Sorg  08:52

This reminds me a lot of what happened after the 2008 election when the nation was just plunging into the the Great Recession. And basically the president elect at that time Barack Obama took over the leadership of the nation. The difference is back then he had the cooperation of George W. Bush bush basically said, hey, look at this is going to be something you're going to have to deal with, I'm going to get out of your way. And to his everlasting credit. And I know we've got a lot of criticisms George W. Bush, that's exactly what he did. He was cooperative. He did not try to impede the Obama incoming administration in any way. And john mccain was the same way the losing candidate and the election. This time you've got a losing candidate who also runs the current administration who's doing everything he can really to make it as hard as possible for the incoming administration, to the point where they're not even being allowed to have all the briefings that their staff needs. He is providing negative leadership having white house parties that are absolutely horrific. You know, they're they're basically super spreader events, Time after time after time, no masks a lot. No social distancing. On the positive side, we're recording on Sunday. And before we started recording, I was watching the video from Portage, Michigan, which really is the focal point of the nation. That's where Pfizer has manufactured millions of doses of their highly effective COVID vaccine and the FedEx trucks and the UPS trucks are rolling out and the first batches are getting out there. But we have to be careful in saying, hey, look at this whole thing is, you know, this is the beginning of the end, but it's only the beginning of the end, only a handful of us are going to be able to get vaccinated initially. And really the only ones that get vaccinated in the first wave are going to be healthcare workers, the state is ready to distribute, I kind of wish I would send the national guard down there and prevent them from sending any of the vaccine outside the state. Just say to heck with it. We're keeping it all here in Michigan. But that's not what's going to happen. Michigan is going to get its fair share. And the state health director Joneigh Khaldun says the state is ready. But it's only going to go so far.


Joneigh Khaldun  10:53

There are currently over 280 locations across the state that have enrolled in the state's vaccination program. And they're located all over the state. While the vaccine initially will only be available in limited doses, in the next several months, as more and more becomes available, eventually, most adults will be able to get the vaccine.


Walt Sorg  11:14

Right now even the healthcare workers, only a small fraction of them are going to be inoculated in the first wave. I saw a report just from our hospital system here in Lansing. And it looked like maybe 15% of the health care workers would be able to get vaccinations immediately. And part of that is because some of the some of the health care workers are saying and not quite yet, especially those who are expecting right now the ones that are pregnant are a little concerned. But there simply isn't enough to go around.


Christine Barry  11:40

Yeah, and I want to go back to something we were talking about earlier with the restaurant association and how difficult this has been on small business. The Michigan Hospital Association is asking that we extend protections through the holiday season. So we keep these restrictions in place through the holidays, while the Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association is it. They're the ones that are urging the state to let them open up and manage things locally. And so this has been stressful on health care in a number of different ways. It we've really drawn battle lines between these different industries and different sectors of society.


Walt Sorg  12:20

The solution is pretty simple, though. And that's in Washington DC if mitch mcconnell would stop blocking aid, so that we could support these businesses while they are closed. That would relieve a lot of the pressure on them and at the same time, help stop the spread of the virus.


Christine Barry  12:36

I think we're lucky that Governor Whitmer has taken such a strong position. We've done pretty well everything has been difficult, and our numbers are still really high. But considering where we would be if we had, say, the Florida Governor here, rather than someone who took this seriously and did what she could until the republicans tried to stop her. I think she's saved a lot of lives. I'm really glad that in addition to Governor Whitmer, I think being a leader for the nation in terms of how to respond to the crisis. We also have Pfizer here distributing the vaccine now that's, that's kind of cool.


Walt Sorg  13:12

You raised the legislature a couple of interesting points about what's going on in Lansing right now. It's reported that at least 12 members of the legislature that's out of 148. So it's about 8% of the legislature has become infected 37 staff people have become infected. That's what's known to be infections, their house employees have actually filed a complaint with OSHA over workplace safety, because they're not in a safe workplace. A lot of the members of legislature on the Republican side it's still refused to wear a mask, she'll refuse to enforce social distancing. And the capital is just like the white house now because it is run by people who don't necessarily believe in the restrictions is become one of the hotspots in the nation. However, the House did cancel sessions after a staffer was tested positive for COVID. All of this of course, coming after the interview is Rudy Giuliani circus that was in town where Giuliani and his and others were infected and, of course, did everything wrong and probably spread the infection far and wide. It's they're setting a bad example, just like the president is setting a bad example. This has got to be a unified front. And right now, as we said before, the leadership's coming from Joe Biden, who mirrors who actually demonstrates and illustrates exactly what needs to be done. When you see the announcements that they have for the appointments for the administration. They are very careful about masking about social distancing. They disinfect the podium between speakers, the whole nine yards. They're doing what is right and the President is doing a lot of things that are wrong.


Christine Barry  14:42

Christine Greig said that that MIOSHA complaint did not come from her office, even though she had suggested it earlier about the firearms coming into the Capitol. This one did not come from her office. As I understood what I what I read about it. I'm glad someone finally filed this complaint. I'm gonna tell you I think, in addition to just the ideology of these, of the republicans behind it, I think there's a couple of things going on here. One is that they're just bullying Democrats, because that seems to be I don't know, the the driver for what republicans do these days is to own the libs and I feel like that's kind of what they're doing. But


Walt Sorg  15:24

a part of it, too, is a report effectively, is effectively repudiating Trump if they support strong controls, because the President has said, No, this isn't that isn't necessary, we need to reopen the economy. And if they say, well, you're wrong, Mr. President, that's the last thing you want to say if you don't want to have a nasty tweet.


Christine Barry  15:43

Okay. I mean, that could be that could be a consideration. I also think they're trying to force herd immunity. They're trying to model that, and maybe even tried to keep democrats from showing up to work from showing up to vote. I just think this is a really, really sinister thing that they're doing and whether they're thinking about it, and it's consciously sinister, I don't know.


Walt Sorg  16:04

A couple other points of resistance right. Now, first of all, you have the Catholic high schools in the state saying basically, we should be exempt from the closure order. Because we're Catholic and not public schools. I personally find that a little offensive to be using religion as an excuse basically, to endanger the health of the rest of the society. They argue we're very safe, we're not endangering anybody's health, and we have a religious freedom to continue to teach the way we want to teach. If that's the case, then they don't have to obey any state laws, because they're exempt from safety laws. They're exempt from providing school meals are exempt from curriculum requirements and all that which, of course, is not true. They are covered by a lot of state regulations and laws. And this is one more regulation I think they should be responsible for, and I don't think they're going to be successful in court. And then you've got the Friske Farm Market up in the Charlevoix area, where they famously decided to have a big outdoor festival and said, No masks, no social distancing required. And the photos on that, that they posted on Facebook are absolutely frightening. There were hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people with their children standing in line in very close quarters, none of them with masks all to celebrate Christmas, not realizing in many cases, this could be the last Christmas they celebrate, because either they become infected or they seriously endanger the health of somebody close to them.


Christine Barry  17:25

You know, what if this killed little kids instead of old people, this whole country be shut down? But here we are.


Walt Sorg  17:33

I got a really nasty response on Facebook to one of my posts, saying basically, I'm not going to wear a face diaper. Give me a break.


Christine Barry  17:42

A face diaper?


Walt Sorg  17:44

Well, in her case, it probably is an appropriate term to because she was a real potty mouth.


Christine Barry  17:50

Wow.  That's really funny.


Walt Sorg  17:54

A big part of the pandemic story is the impact on our economy. For some insights on the short term and long term outlook for Michigan, called up Dr. Charles Ballard. He's a senior professor of economics at Michigan State University. He also runs the state of the state quarterly survey of Michigan political opinion. Professor Ballard, let's begin first with the short term the governor is proposing to the legislature $100 million, half of which which will go to help small businesses that have been impacted by all those the other half going into unemployment benefits, would that have a major impact on the state of Michigan?


Charles Ballard  18:29

I think it would have some impact. It's it's more than just a drop in the bucket. It wouldn't solve all of the problems. But I think it would, you know, that would help if we're in a situation now for a lot of the small businesses and for a lot of people who are unemployed, anything, even small is way better than nothing. I do believe that the the real solution on a larger scale almost have to come from Washington. And those talks have been bogged down for a very long time. I'm hoping that this bipartisan group of senators can somehow get that moving, because the federal government has a lot more leeway to do things to do things on a large scale.


Walt Sorg  19:12

The state, one of the big arguments over is over whether some of it should just be a one time check to individuals up to a certain income cap of about $300 $600 for a couple regardless of their circumstances, even for somebody who's a white collar worker who is able to telecommute and has their job full time. The other side being let's put it all into unemployment benefits for people who are at the bottom of the scale right now. My guess is you and I agreed that it should all go into unemployment.


Charles Ballard  19:41

Yeah, I agree with that, or Well, all a lot into unemployment, certainly at the state and local governments from the federal would be would be good. But this the policy of just shooting money at people regardless of their situation doesn't make sense to me, millions of people who got those 12 $100 or 20 $400 checks back a few months ago, it just went into savings because they they were not needy. And they didn't have much to spend it on anyway.


Walt Sorg  20:17

What happens to the economy if nothing is done between now and the inauguration,


Charles Ballard  20:22

I think that that would really, really hurt. If you look at the trajectory of jobs, there was a tremendous drop in April, then big rebound in May. And then after that, that rebound of jobs started to slow way down. And last month, if you if you look at the curve, the curve is close to flat now for employment gains coming back from the losses of the springtime, there are an awful lot of businesses that are hanging by thread. There are an awful lot of individuals who have had to borrow to pay their rent who are in big trouble. I think really, we need to have something very soon. And if not, I think it'll do significant damage.


Walt Sorg  21:06

Because move to the long term right. sent to you We both read an article in bridge magazine talking about some of the impacts that a Biden administration could change things in Michigan from taxes autos, of course, when you say autos, the big kahuna, of course, being the automobile industry, and anything that helps the auto industry certainly is going to help Michigan, what would be the impact of Biden's policies if enacted by Congress, or by executive order on the state? How good would that be for Michigan?


Charles Ballard  21:35

I think it would help. I don't think that, that we should view the auto industry's relationship to Michigan quite the way that we did 50 years ago, you know, back in the 60s, it was fully a quarter of our economy. And another quarter of our economy was other manufacturing, much of it tied to autos. Last year, autos was about 8% of our economy and other manufacturing about 11. So we're still more into manufacturing than most states. But autos isn't the be all in the end all like it like it used to be. Nevertheless, I think it would be fine. If we were to have more support. You know, there are two things that the Biden administration or the soon to be Biden, ministration has tied together. One is trying to move the needle on climate change. And a big part of that is support for electric vehicles. That would dovetail very nicely. I think with the auto sector in Michigan, if we could have some federal support that would I think, push the the electric vehicles down the road farther than they have now. Because right now, electric is a pretty small fraction of the of the fleet. The other thing is to do with clean energy. You know, we have manufacturing capacity to make go solar panels to make windmills to do all sorts of other stuff like that. I like a lot of the things that I hear coming out of the Biden Harris team,


Walt Sorg  23:00

part of the debate on autos right now is going on to the state legislature and electric vehicles in a battle between Tesla and the big three regarding whether or not dealerships are a mandatory part of a business structure for the automobile industry in Michigan. Is that kind of a side argument that doesn't have a major impact? Or is that something we should be paying more attention to?


Charles Ballard  23:21

My view is that that's a side show. Maybe I'm wrong, but I just don't think that that's a, that's a really big, big deal. That'll that'll get worked out somehow. And the main thing is really, how many cars can you sell and what kind of cars can you sell? One reason that Michigan's economy has not done as well as some other sectors of the economy is that forget about the Detroit threes share of sales, total vehicle sales, appear to have a ceiling of about 17 million a year. We were at that ceiling 12 years ago, then we had the great recession plummeted, and then slowly came back. And then by about 2016, we were back at around 17 million, and we just don't seem to be able to sell more than that. Given that I don't see the growth of the auto I say the auto sector is a very good thing for for Michigan's economy. But look, when I was a kid autos were two and a half percent of the national economy. Now they're three quarters of 1% of the national economy. Other things have grown faster. And so I'm happy for the support of autos at night. I actually think that Ilan musk and is sort of a publicity hound as much as anything so I'm not sure that that whole Tesla tempest in a teapot is going to mount too much. But I guess maybe Walter might be sounding kind of wishy washy and on the one hand on the other, yes, sure, go ahead and support autos Especially clean transportation, especially new technological innovations. But that will not suddenly make us a top 10. State in 2018. And in 2019, Michigan's per capita personal income was 32nd, among the 50 states, and when we get past COVID, we'll probably be in a similar ranking.


Walt Sorg  25:21

a sector that can't grow fast enough right now is healthcare, certainly growing very fast in Michigan, given our history of having pretty good fringe benefits, and health care benefits, thanks in large part to the auto industry in the UAW, is the Biden plan is likely to impact Michigan as much as it would impact the rest of the nation.


Charles Ballard  25:41

Biden's attempts to shore up the Affordable Care Act and to have a public option. Clearly, those would have the biggest effect in places that are that don't have that have a lot of uninsured people. In recent years, Michigan has been in the top 10 in terms of percentage of our population who have health insurance. And as you say, one person you can thank for that as well to router, because the United Auto Workers for a long time made that a top priority. And employer support for health insurance became the norm in Michigan more than in some other places. The other place person you can thank for it is Rick Snyder, one of the very small number of Republican governors who signed the Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act. So we have right now, more than 94% of our population have health insurance, national average is about two, two and a half or three points below us. So we're better off that means that it's further expansions will help us but they won't help us as much as Texas, Texas is the place that will really be helped. Of course, authorities in Texas have done everything to try to keep their people from having health insurance, they did not participate in the Medicaid expansion. But if Biden's plans go through that would help a lot more Texans that it wouldn't help Michiganders. Nevertheless, it could probably help a few 100,000 people in Michigan, so I'm all for it. In fact, I've had health insurance for my entire adult life. And I'm glad for that. And I've known families who have had the choice between letting a loved one die or going bankrupt or both because of health tragedies. I don't think that should happen. So I'm a big supporter of of any expansion of health insurance access. I think it's unfortunate that we're the only affluent country in the world with substantial numbers of people who don't have health insurance,


Walt Sorg  27:42

it seems like in Michigan, what would make a bigger impact would be increasing the supply of health care more than anything else you teach Michigan State University, the medical schools at Michigan State are jam full the nursing schools at both MSU and the community colleges are jam packed. And the demand hasn't ceased in the least if anything it's gotten he's gotten massive as a result of the pandemic. Am I correct in thinking that we really need to invest more in our medical schools?


Charles Ballard  28:08

I think we need to invest more in almost every facet of education, but certainly medical schools. And you know, one thing that we sometimes lose sight of in the debates about healthcare, are that some of the places that have the greatest challenges are rural areas. You know, if you're in a big metropolitan area, there's likely to be hospitals nearby. If you're in more remote rural areas, often your access to healthcare is not nearly as good as those in metro areas. So yeah, I'm I'm very much in support of expanding the number of doctors and nurses and others that that we have to take part in that because our population is continuing to get older. We have a lot of people with pre existing conditions of various sorts, and having a healthy population is better than having one that's not healthy.


Walt Sorg  29:02

A final part of the Biden plan, which is a big shift from the current administration, is an immigration of course. And although people think about immigration is an issue for the southern border and for California, it's a big deal here too.


Charles Ballard  29:16

Yeah, absolutely. And, and one of the things that I think often gets lost in the immigration debate when folks rant and rave against immigration, I think what they have in mind is undocumented immigrants swimming across the Rio Grande River, people with very low skills, we need to remember that the immigrant population is a kind of by modal it has a lot of people who do not have a lot of skill, and they end up doing farm labor, washing floors, stuff like that. But at the other hand, there's a whole group of immigrants who are disproportionately highly educated immigrants are More likely to be entrepreneurs more likely to start their own business? I No, no fewer than three of the deans at Michigan State were born in India. They all have PhDs in medicine. A lot of the doctors, my ophthalmologist is an is an immigrant. Actually, I have allergies. And my allergist is an immigrant.


Walt Sorg  30:21

I got to be there. I've got three immigrants as treating me right now.


Charles Ballard  30:25

Yeah, so I'm hoping that we can have a more sensible public discussion of immigration than we've had in the last four years. You know, public opinion is kind of mixed on immigration, public opinion is not in favor of just open the floodgates let anybody come. But public opinion surveys show that a strong majority of Americans are in favor of DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, including almost half of Republicans are okay with that, because these children who got brought here when they were six months old, it's not their fault. So I think, you know, it's, I'm hopeful, certainly, at a minimum, it's likely that in Washington in the next few years, we won't have the same kind of chaotic, divisive tome that we've had, in the last several years, at least, I hope that's, that's true. And that will allow us to make some progress. Also, the Biden administration has pledged not to break up families not to separate children from the parents. And that is also another thing that has very broad public support. So I think we can we can get some, some positive changes. And certainly, I hope we can have a really positive change in tone of public discourse, although right now with armed people shouting obscenities outside Secretary of State's Benson's home. Right now, we're not quite there yet.


Walt Sorg  31:55

Yeah, well, at least they haven't threatened to kidnap her yet. Yeah. So that's a plus. The other thing that did occurs to me too, when you talk about undocumented immigrants, well, a lot of people may not like having undocumented immigrants living in the state we all like to eat. And a lot of those undocumented immigrants are feeding us.


Charles Ballard  32:12

Yeah, the farm labor force includes huge numbers of undocumented immigrants. And then the the the rest of the food service supply chain includes a lot of those folks. And yeah, we may rail against them and all but they're doing productive work. So I'm obviously not as intensely anti immigration, as is some folks. I do believe that we need to have a controlled system. I'm hoping that we can get back to the kind of discussion that we had a decade ago about having a kind of a long term solution to immigration problems. We're not there yet.


Walt Sorg  32:48

Dr. Charles Ballard, always a pleasure. Thanks so much for joining us.


Charles Ballard  32:51

Thank you Walt,


Christine Barry  32:57

now to the politics of the months as the presidential election, low lighted by the batshit crazy Rudy Giuliani showing the House Oversight Committee, which was built around unproven claims of fraud. at a much less publicized state Senate hearing someone who actually knows something about all of this testified and unlike Giuliani and his band of SNL wannabes, he did it under oath. Chris Thomas served as state elections director for more than 30 years, and he came out of retirement to oversee operations in Detroit.


Chris Thomas  33:29

Those who wish to turn this election into some type of disaster have missed the big picture. 1000s of Michigan citizens have worked since the first days of the pandemic, to prepare for the certainty of a significant mail election on November 3, I thank them and I congratulate them. Due to the nature of Election Day and the days before the largest part time work or some mistake, new election are perfect. There are mistakes for sure. However, it is an unreasonable leap to equate mistake, fraud. Quite simply, fraud is not a mere mistake.


Walt Sorg  34:09

Thomas spoke quietly but forcefully about what happened late in the counting of absentee ballots in Wayne County, when it became apparent that Donald Trump was going to lose badly in the county and thus lose Michigan.


Chris Thomas  34:21

So things changed in the early afternoon on on Wednesday. We became aware though there were social media messages going out urging people to get down to TCF the stop the vote either from the be in possession of one email that came from a northern Oakland County Republican club that basically said we need help old challengers needed right now. Do not let criminals steal our country. And I think that reflected the attitude of the folks that started coming in the groups that started coming in. This was a different Attitude than the challenges we've been working with for the past day. This group was aggressive. They were rude and had no problem making disparaging remarks to the workers. So around two o'clock the aisles were packed. People were not at a table. Each person was supposed to go off to a table. That was not happening. They were in groups of 510 15 million around, moving around, totally not a way the challenge situation was laid out to them. Contrary to law, in the sense that the idea that one challenger per table meant that the challenger would be at the table and not elsewhere.


Walt Sorg  35:44

The mob showed they were there to be legal pole challengers they were actually there just to create chaos.


Chris Thomas  35:50

At one point, the challengers all gathered in the main aisle started chanting as well inside the room. Now that's pretty incredible to have challengers chanting about stopping the vote.


Christine Barry  36:03

The ugliness was not limited to the TCF center. It spread first to the home of Michigan Secretary of State protesters gathered at Benson's home after dark to oppose certification. There were about 30 of them. I think she saw firearms, the police said they didn't see firearms,


Walt Sorg  36:24

The Detroit Police say they didn't see firearms. The State Police said they did.


Christine Barry  36:28

Okay, okay, that makes more sense, because I thought I had seen that the police saw firearms, and then I read that they didn't. But either way, you know, both I have to say this, and I said this before, it isn't just about governor Whitmer's residence or the Secretary of State's residence. I said this when a liberal activists went to Mike Bishop's house and they went to Rick Snyder's residence. I said, don't go to someone's residence, it crosses a line. To me, there's no integrity in that I'm not going to listen to you if you come to my home. And it's kind of a bullying move. I didn't like it, then I don't like it now. And I'm just one voice but it's just something to think about. And certainly don't go there after dark. I mean, what the hell never go to somebody's house like that in a group after dark. But that's what they did. And intimidation has always been a tool for these folks. And a good example is Detroit representative Cynthia Johnson, who had the temerity to question Rudy Giuliani's delusional rants during the house oversight hearing. She was the recipient of dozens of racist sexist vile threats and she responded by posting many of them on her Facebook page. And I'm going to give you a warning we're going to play the audio it's really disgusting.


MAGA  37:46

Hey, fucking whore fucking black cunt how do you how dare you? bully witnesses on the stand? Your name and phone numbers out there now you're getting doxxed bitch.  bitch. You're done. You're so fucking done. Should be swinging some a fucking rope you Democrat. You fucking democrat feeling the election. You deserve everything you fucking get. Goodbye, man. You're in so much trouble. dems are going down especially fucking big lip niggers like you.


Walt Sorg  38:23

I've got other ones here. But I don't want to play him. I'm sorry. These are they're just so disgusting in so many ways. One thing I wanted to point out about, you're right that you shouldn't take the protest to the homes. But one thing I would point out the protests that were done by the liberal activists at the homes of Mike Bishop and Rick Snyder, they didn't show up bearing weapons of war, they didn't show up with AK 47s and rifles strapped to their backs. And they didn't show up wearing camo and all of that. They showed up with signs. And you know, the old phrase, the old cliche sticks and stones will break my bones. But words will never hurt me. In the words may have gone over the line. But it's not like those were a threat to the families in the lives of Rick Snyder and Mike bishop. But when you show up at the front door of the Secretary of State, or you make death threats to a state representative, or you make death threats, to the legally elected presidential electors who are going to be meeting on Monday, death threats that are being taken so seriously, they're shutting the Capitol building down and direct allow members of the general public into the gallery to watch the vote. It will be live streamed, but the right wing is upset that they're not gonna be able to go inside and make still another show against people that they're threatening online calling them traders and saying you're going to die. And you're going to regret this and watch your back. It's just oh my god. It's just so far over the line. That is absolutely disgusting. What is going on? And sadly, you take the combination of people who have an extreme view of their gun rights and an extreme view of their politics. You put the two together and it's really it's kind of a lethal mix.


Christine Barry  39:56

Yeah. Meanwhile, Republican members of the House lashed out, at representative Cynthia Johnson.


Walt Sorg  40:04

She made a post on Facebook saying to the people that were threatening her, watch out, were coming after you, the soldiers of Christ noted or something like that. She didn't say it very elegantly. But what I clearly understood her to mean was look at, we're going to turn this over to the police, and you're not going to get away with this, the police are going to come after you and you're going to be prosecuted. What republicans chose to interpret it as meaning was was physical threats of violence. And sadly, the Attorney General Dana Nestle concurred with them and was also critical of representative Johnson. And for once I've got to take issue with the Attorney General. I think she overall was it was overblown in her response. Cynthia Johnson may not be the Winston Churchill's speechmaking, but to me, her intent was very clear. If you threaten a state representative with death, you're gonna have to pay some consequences, those consequences will be legal. She talked about economic boycotts. She certainly talked about law enforcement going after them. She never implied in my mind, at least, that vigilante justice be exercised against these crazy people.


Christine Barry  41:06

Well, I agree with you, if you take the entirety of her comments completely out of every possible context, and just look at her comments, you can see that she didn't call for violence on anybody, or against anybody. It was, I mean, she said, hit them in their pocketbooks. She came out and said that so I didn't think that that what she stated was a big deal there. But the reason I couldn't personally give a full throated defense of it was that tensions are running so high right now, we have to be more careful of that. And I think the way that like you mentioned how Dana Nessel responded, I think the way Christine Greigg and and Donna Lasinsky responded was much better, where they said, It's regrettable that the comments lead to the unintended consequence of adding further attention, and just that people have to be mindful. But that's, that's the only reason I think that it was it. I don't even think it was inappropriate. You have to understand if you watch that house hearing that she participated in, he continued to gavel her down. She wanted to put people under oath. He said, No, I can't do that. It's never been done before. That was not true. And she was she was there as a warrior for Detroit, basically.


Walt Sorg  42:20

And a warrior for truth, quite honestly.


Christine Barry  42:22

Yeah. And she just they just kept gaveling her down and call her out of order, they would have punished her for something, anything that they could, it didn't have to be this Facebook post, it could have been anything else, they would have taken away her committee assignments because they just don't like her. I don't think that she should have been demonized the way that she had, I certainly did not appreciate what I was hearing on those. On those phone calls. I'll tell you what, when I hear a voicemail like that, my first thought is always You're so courageous. You know, you just you have so much courage to leave a voicemail for somebody saying we're coming to get you. And I would probably be more afraid of the people who are just quiet, don't say it, but think it and intend it. Those kinds of voicemails to me are just so offensive because the first thing I want to say is come and say that to my face right now. And I also do not want to say that because these people are freaking crazy.


Walt Sorg  43:18

On the plus side, there is a thing called caller ID. And every one of these callers can be identified and either the FBI or Michigan State Police can track them down and the FBI will be involved in some cases, because these phone calls cross state lines it's a federal crime what they did, and they hopefully will pay the price for it. Another chapter in the will do anything for Trump world was that legally worthless lawsuit that was filed in the US Supreme Court and rejected seemingly minutes later by the court on a an amorous vote. It was filed by the Attorney General of Texas who's a total moron seeking to overturn the election results in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Georgia and Wisconsin. Quickly joining in the suit at least another 17. state attorneys general all republicans Of course. Plus this is the scary part more than 125 members of the US House of Representatives including the Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, and for republicans for Michigan, Tim Walberg of Tipton, jack Bergman of waters meet bill highs of Zeeland and john Molnar of Midland not joining the suit. We're Paul Mitchell, who is retiring from Congress, and Fred Upton from Southwest Michigan who's split with Trump on many, many issues to his credit. And also of course, there was Justin Amash, the newly minted independent former republican from Grand Rapids, who was very critical on Twitter of the whole thing. Within hours of filing the briefs, the Supreme Court told the Attorney General Paxton and his fellow dylusions to take a hike, refusing to take the case because as Michigan's Attorney General pointed out how elections are run in Michigan or shortly not within the jurisdiction of Texas.


Dana Nessel  44:54

I almost don't know how to describe whatever this lawsuit is because it's so insane. It's insulting, quite honestly to have the state of Texas come in to my state Michigan, and to try to overturn the results where nearly 155,000 Michigan voters voted for President Elect Biden over President Trump and and now say that you want to come in and intervene in our state's elections. I don't believe that it's going to be granted. But just the mere effort to do this, I think is beneath the dignity of the Department of Attorney General. In Texas. I feel bad the taxpayers so have to finance this. And honestly, I'm ashamed of all the Republican AGs who decided to sign on to this effort.


Walt Sorg  45:40

And if he wasn't big enough with that,


Dana Nessel  45:43

quite honestly, at this point, I believe that these individuals have sold their souls just to support a man who stands for nothing, and who could care less about anybody but himself. So I don't know what to say to that. And I think that, you know, they will have to reckon with what they have done for the rest of their careers. They'll have to live with it. This will be part of their personal histories. But unfortunately, I will ask you part of the history of our country, and I only hope that we have the ability to get past this. And to go back to the the strong democracy that was a model all across the globe. But this is a sad chapter for us in America, no question about it


Walt Sorg  46:24

as a result of that non verdict or the rejection by the US Supreme Court. So Michigan Republicans have filed suit saying they have standing to question the electors, and they want the electoral college not to meet on Monday. We're recording on Sunday, and I hate to make predictions, but I would be willing to predict in this case, they do actually meet and then vote for Joe Biden. 16 votes for Joe.


Christine Barry  46:46

yeah, I agree. I agree.


Walt Sorg  46:48

We should point out that the attorney general of Texas may have other motivation for filing this lawsuit. He is currently under indictment for securities issues, felony issues, he's also being investigated by the FBI right now on bribery charges. So maybe he thinks Donald Trump might be able to give him a pardon as a part of the pardon Palooza that is expected before January 20, where Trump pardons anybody he can think of


Christine Barry  47:15

is there any punishment at all for bringing a lawsuit that has no merit?


Walt Sorg  47:21

There certainly is for the the attorneys can be sanctioned, certainly by their bar associations. And there's efforts underway already to have several of the attorneys be including Rudy Giuliani, sanctioned by their state bar associations. One other note on recounts, I think it's really interesting Christina, in light of all of those, there's only been one recount at the state level for a state office. That was for the results in the 71st house SR cruise just outside of Lansing. And also in that county, Eaton County, they had a recount for a very, very close race for the Board of Commissioners. And in both cases, nothing changed. The State House race, there was a modification of five votes in the margin, which had no impact on the outcome, the outcome was in the it was four digits. And in the Board of Commissioners race, there was no change at all, the person who had lost that race, actually said he didn't want to recount but he finally went ahead and changed his mind just so people could be comfortable with the outcome. What do you think of the notion that the for Michigan representatives and the other 121 members of Congress who signed on to this idiot lawsuit saying that the election was a fraud, should not be seated in the next house of representatives? Because their re election was a fraud?


Christine Barry  48:32

I support it. 100% I think that is a logical outcome. If you don't believe that the election was a sound election. There is no reason to seat you. I don't think that will happen. But that would make me happy.


Walt Sorg  48:50

would certainly it would make me happy. But it would be Nancy Pelosi buying into the idea that it was a rigged election. If she said you can't be seated because the election was rigged. Even though I don't believe that by say you're not going to be seated, she's giving some credence to an absolutely preposterous notion.


Christine Barry  49:07

Well, I didn't look at it from that perspective. My thoughts were that Nancy Pelosi Speaker of the House, she's very, very good and clever, and she understands the nuances of the house. And I just don't think that she would ever do such a big sweeping, it would really be a punishment to them. I don't think she would ever do that, because she's looking at the long game. And this might be just another one of those things that divides people. And when President Biden is talking about unity and bringing people together, she's not going to want to disenfranchise all the people who have voted for those representatives, even though it frankly I think they deserve it. But you know, I'm not I'm I mean, I'm not a master in politics like Nancy Pelosi is


Walt Sorg  49:57

it's really got to be I think a situation now. So such as what we faced at the end of the Civil War. And if people would read Lincoln's second inaugural address, That, to me is the philosophy of the Biden administration and the philosophy of Nancy Pelosi at this point, to take a firm hand, but it's got to stop somewhere and it's got to stop with us.


Christine Barry  50:16

I read something about New California State has not entirely a new idea, but the new Nevada State, and now we're talking about secession again, which most maga people call it succession, I don't really understand, but it doesn't matter. So these are people who love America so much that they want to leave it. It's a very confusing to me. You know, rage makes you say things that sometimes you don't mean, a lot of times, things will calm down after however long but these people are really worked up and I think Trump's going to stay in the background and keep keep throwing bombs out there. keep throwing grenades.


Walt Sorg  50:55

is profitable. All these grenades are very profitable for him. He is making a lot of money, quarter of a billion dollar so far in fundraising since the election, simply by being the worst losing candidate in the history of our nation and the most divisive losing candidate in the history of our nation. And that's saying a lot when you go back to some of our early history,


Christine Barry  51:16

and it's feeding the crap out of his ego. You know, he just feeds on these rallies and the attention that he gets.


Walt Sorg  51:23

One last note before we wrap up, and that is on an analysis of the vote that was done by the folks of the daily COEs congressional district by congressional district of how the presidential vote went. And probably the most striking statistic out of Michigan is that the 11th District represented by Haley Stevens flipped from a Trump district in 2016, to a Biden district in 2020. Back in 2016, Trump carried the district by four and a half points 47 49.7 to 45.3. In this election, it was Joe Biden winning by four and a half points 51.6 to 47.1. That's a huge flip. The other one that really stands out is that Alyssa Slotkin, one despite the fact that Trump carried her district by eight tenths of a point, it was Trump 49, six, Biden 48.8, slack and no one by about three points. And over in the third district, the reason that Peter Meijer one, Donald Trump won by 3.2% 50.6 to 47.4. And that's spelt the difference for him. The only Republican who ran well ahead of Donald Trump in the state of Michigan was Fred Upton. And that's really not a surprise for it up to has been there for a long, long time. And as a as good a candidate as john hoadley was, Fred Upton started with a huge advantage in likability, people liked him. He had split with Trump enough so that he couldn't be accused of being a Trump, acolyte. And he played it well, and he was the only republican out of the seven in Michigan running one run ahead of Donald Trump.


Christine Barry  53:05

And one more thing, President Elect Biden continues to push governor Whitmer on the national stage, naming her as one of six co chairs for his his inauguration committee.


Walt Sorg  53:17

It's gonna be an interesting inauguration because it will be an inaugural like no other in the modern era. The last time we had such a limited attendance for the actual swearing in of the president probably would have to go back to when Gerry Ford was sworn in, in the Oval Office. The day Richard Nixon resigned in the aftermath of Watergate, before that, you got to go back to Lyndon Johnson being sworn in in the cabin of Air Force One the day that President Kennedy was assassinated.


Christine Barry  53:41

Well, Governor Whitmer has said there probably will not be a parade there will be a lot of virtual pieces to it. But President Elect Biden said, people want to be able to say we've passed the baton, we're moving on Democracy has functioned. And that is why he feels so strongly about having a good inauguration event,


Walt Sorg  54:00

I think at the planning committee level will be handled by the same geniuses who put together the Democratic National Convention, which by all measures was was tremendously successful and beautifully done in light of the pandemic.


Christine Barry  54:12

I agree. And our political attack ad of the week feature is back, thanks to the amazing $400 million that's being spent in the Georgia runoff elections. The attack ads have easy targets. Both Republican senators have managed to make millions and stock trades that leverage the impact of the covid 19 pandemic, an issue on which they both had insider information. The attack out of the week, Senate run off edition.


The Georgia Way political ad  54:39

What's next for David Perdue. He's been questioned by the FBI. His record subpoenaed by a grand jury and the Justice Department's investigated Purdue for insider trading. Make no mistake, buying and selling stocks on inside information is a federal crime. if found guilty, you could go to jail. our justice system today sides if David Perdue was a criminal, Georgia decides if he deserves to be a senator. The Georgia way is responsible for the content of this ad.


Christine Barry  55:09

And that's wrap for this week's podcast, head on over to where we have all of our show notes, we cite all of our sources and you will be able to see the wonderful attack ad that we just awarded attack ad of the week


Walt Sorg  55:25

we encourage your feedback. As always, you can email us at, or troll us on our Facebook page or Twitter. And if you could take a moment to review the pod on iTunes, standby for the vaccine. I'll be one of the first in line because I'm old and feeble looking forward to getting a needle jabbed into my arm as quickly as possible. Although I doubt I'll do it on national television. Until the next time, thanks for joining us. The Michigan Policast was a production of Michigan citizens for a better tomorrow.

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