Trump chaos, COVID updates. Tom Watkins on challenges with K12 + the US relationship with China.

December 28, 2020

Michigan Policast for Monday, December 28, 2020

  In this episode:

  • Donald Trump – Agent of Chaos
  • Pandemic updates
  • Tom Watkins on the challenges of post-pandemic education
  • Political notes
  • Transcript



Jump to:

Donald Trump – Agent of Chaos





Pandemic updates



Tom Watkins on post-pandemic challenges for education


Our public schools are the true Statue of Liberty in this great nation of ours. There's no other institution that takes the tired, the hungry, the poor, the huddled masses, disadvantaged children, and give them hope and opportunity ~@tdwatkins88 Click To Tweet
We need to assure that China's rise doesn't come at our demise. Trying to hold China back at this point in time, would be like building a chain-link fence to stop a tsunami that's coming ashore. ~@tdwatkins88 Click To Tweet

Political notes


…jobs will be eliminated, businesses will be closed, livelihoods will be destroyed and lives will be lost because of Gretchen Whitmer … Gretchen Whitmer is the only thing standing in the way. ~@SenMikeShirkey









Walt Sorg  00:08

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 definitely in a holiday spirit.


Speaker  00:19

A festivus for the rest of us. At the festivus dinner, you gather your family around and tell them all the ways they have disappointed you over the past year. And is there a tree No, instead there's a pole requires no decoration. I find tinsel distracting faster says back the tradition of festivus begins with the airing of grievances. I got a lot of problems with your people. You're gonna hear about it.


Walt Sorg  00:48

No, that wasn't recorded at Mar a Lago. Although it occurs to me, Christine, that the festivus pole looks a lot like Donald Trump's three wood when he's out playing golf. The airing of grievances though did continue from a president who seems intent on burning down the barn on his way out. And he finds himself actually in alignment on an issue with of all people, one of the members of the squad Rashida Tlaib and she is loving it.


Christine Barry  01:12

I'm Christine Barry, Michigan strong action to slow down the COVID-19 virus appears to be working. And that could lead to some long-overdue good news for restaurants as 2020 comes to an end. Also on this holiday edition of the podcast, we'll talk about one of the major challenges posed for the post-pandemic recovery, reversing the damage to our kids caused by the disruptions and schools will talk to former state school superintendent Tom Watkins, and we'll preview an effort to get a reluctant legislature to accept the concept of equal rights for LGBTQ Michiganders in housing and employment.


Walt Sorg  01:47

We should begin with a confession we are recording on Saturday, December 26, the day after Christmas. Merry Christmas, Christine.


Christine Barry  01:55

Merry Christmas to you too.


Walt Sorg  01:57

Thank you so much. It is possible though, we will be getting a tweet between rounds of golf to change everything we say today. But as of right now, Donald Trump is happily spending a week playing golf after creating absolute chaos in Washington DC. He has already vetoed funding for the United States military including a 3% pay raise for troops he claims to support. And of course all he's doing By the way, that bill is trying to protect the legacies of 10 Confederate army generals aka traitors and get some revenge on the evildoers of social media through increased regulation of their content, and is also threatening to veto a bill which has been supported by his own negotiators, which would provide some greatly needed financial help to people are really jammed up during the pandemic. And to put the cherry on top, the federal government may shut down on Tuesday if Trump holds true to his threats, not sending that bill, or even delay signing the bill. So let's begin with the threat to veto the pandemic bill which also contains funding for the full government continuation budget What the hell's going on?


Christine Barry  03:05

Well, actually, let's go back a little bit further and say that every weekend we say we recording on Sunday, this time Saturday, so we might get a tweet that'll change things in between Donald Trump's around the golf after he created a bunch of chaos.


Walt Sorg  03:18

You got a point there?


Christine Barry  03:19

I really you know, Christmas weekend not that special. Look at Trump set out the negotiations for this COVID relief bill, and he let his treasury secretary deal with Congress, Trump says that the $600 per person in the bill is too little. Even though that number was proposed by his negotiator, Steve Mnuchin. He wants to $2,000 per adult $4000 for the family in a position that lines him up with Bernie Sanders, Nancy Pelosi and Rashida Talib.


Rashida Tlaib  03:46

I just hope that he's not playing games, that this is not just rhetoric, that he's actually going to make sure that it's possible. I know that myself and many of us House Democrats were ready. I think Speaker Pelosi and I had already exchanged messages that we are ready if the republicans and others are serious about this, and taking up the President of the United States offer of $2,000 check versus the very inadequate $600 I think we're ready to ask it. So the balls in his corner.


Walt Sorg  04:15

Apparently that is his position that he's serious right now on Christmas Day. It's reportedly played golf with Lindsey Graham and Graham emerged from that as an advocate for the $2,000 per person. Of course, Republicans in Congress have already rejected the idea. And man, this just seems like the ultimate stick-it-to-you mitch mcconnell move, because it's a lose lose for McConnell, no matter what happens on this because he loses.


Christine Barry  04:41

I can see why Donald Trump likes this number or at least likes increasing the number. I think it's it's good for him personally, as he goes out. He's going to rewrite the history of his presidency and on his way out the door sign a $2,000 check for everybody. So I kind of get that and I think $2,000 per adult is not a hard number to get behind. Yeah, the democrats are ready. But if he's punishing McConnell for recognizing President Elect Biden, it's kind of a good punishment for the rest of us.


Walt Sorg  05:14

Yeah it works out well for us. But it sure hurts the two republicans trying to fill out the senate terms that determined control of the Senate and determine whether or not mitch mcconnell remains as the majority leader. There were between a rock and a hard place right now. First, they fought any subsidy at all. And then they came around to the 600 bucks, which McConnell was able to sell to his caucus based on the idea that we need this in Georgia. And now they're going to face the situation of having to either go against Donald Trump or go against mitch mcconnell. And either way they lose well, Jon ossoff, and Raphael, Warnock to say, Oh, goody, goody, goody, this is what we've wanted all along. It's $2,000. Where are you? So it's, it's kind of fun to say the least, to watch the president messing with. And I think it's all about personal animus, or than anything else he really doesn't care about the Republican Party. I'm not sure he really cares about the issue. He certainly wants to remain the center of attention. And I must confess that we've fallen for that this may be the 52nd week, in the year 2020, when he has been high up on our rundown. And the last time I checked with gun 52 podcasts so far this year, so at least he's consistent. And sadly, we're going to be talking about him for at least a couple of more beginning of next week. We have got on January 6, the official acceptance of the vote of the electoral college or President of the United States, which among other things, as the beautiful Vice President of the United States presiding. And he has the honor, if he follows through on tradition, and all of that announcing that the winner of the electoral vote is Joe Biden. And the other winner of the electoral vote is Kamala Harris. And that's the way it's going to be Hey, look at other vice presidents have done the same thing. Al Gore had to do it. When he was when he lost an election. It had to be done by Dan Quayle when he was voted out of office. So you know, why shouldn't Mike Pence be any different? Of course, Donald Trump won't see it that way.


Christine Barry  07:22

Well, Donald Trump won't, but Mike Pence, he might still be interested in a future of politics in some capacity. You know, maybe an ambassador, maybe he wants to run for elected office again. He's a nut, but at least he's somewhat more sane than Donald Trump is, then he'll do the job. There will be I assume some objections to the electoral college count. If you remember what we did that in 2004, Senator Barbara Boxer objected and there was a floor debate in the Senate, there was another one in the house. And everybody got up and talked about either voting as a federal citizenship right, versus the way the states have it now. And they talked about disenfranchisement. Of course, on the Republican side, it was all about how we were conspiracy theorists. And this was a hail mary. And that wasn't it at all. No one really voted to overturn the vote or to not certify it. But it was a really robust debate. I don't know if that will happen again. But I think anytime that Democrats have the chance to get up and make our case for making voting easier, more accessible, and really turning it into a citizenship, right, that's going to be a good thing. And ultimately, President Elect Biden will, you know, the count will be certified and he will be sworn in and he will be our next president.


Walt Sorg  08:42

You also have the situation where if it does come up, if even one member of the Senate objects to the acceptance of the vote of the Electoral College, it has to go to a vote of the full Senate, which puts every Republican in the Senate on the spot. Do you vote in support of Donald Trump's position, which of course is the insane position? Or do you vote in support of what the voters have already voted on and you vote to support the voters? Again, a lose lose situation for those two senators that are trying to get reelected down in the state of Georgia? Again, Trump's putting them in an impossible position. The really the only ones that are speaking out against him, though, in in a big way. are the ones that are the lame ducks for the most part, you know, Mitt Romney is still is still there. And Susan Collins is certainly deeply concerned about all of this. But you've got Paul Mitchell from Michigan, he tweets Aw, Come on minuchin, your treasury secretary represented you during extended negotiations on this bill package. We are a republic, not a monarchy. And Paul Mitchell of course, is ending his political career in December and with a tweet like that is high minded as it is it probably would end his political career for him anyway. I mentioned, the Melania Trump tweet. I've got to read this because it's just so ironic. Two days after her husband vetoes a 3% pay raise for the military. She tweets this Christmas hashtag Christmas with a star. I send our best wishes to all who celebrate this wonderful time of the year. Let's remember our brave servicemembers, elderly and others that Merry Christmas. Yeah, Merry Christmas troops. My husband just took away your 3% pay raise, although Congress will probably override him on the you know, the the irony goes on and on and on. The responses to that all have the hashtag be best, as milania continues her campaign against bullying on the internet and certainly, she's seen examples of that.


Christine Barry  10:40

Her be best campaign was the what is a great symbol of the irony of the entire Trump presidency because Donald Trump is the biggest bully in the United States. And her be  best campaign is all anti bullying. It's ridiculous. I don't know how anyone could take it seriously. And she even wore a coat that said, I don't really care, do you or something to that effect when she went to see the poor kids in the cages? So this this family's just gross?


Walt Sorg  11:11

Yeah. Meanwhile, he's complaining on Twitter this weekend that she wasn't on the cover of more magazines during their four years in office, because she's the greatest first lady in history. Something that Yeah, there's a few that I would rank ahead of her on both sides. You know, Barbara Bush, I would rank ahead of her I would certainly write Eleanor Roosevelt ahead of her and Jackie Kennedy in a very different way ahead of her. And the most popular woman in politics in the country, if not the world is a woman by the name of Obama, Michelle. So whatever. May Trump he's hit the Pentagon with a one two punch, not only did he veto the entire national defense authorization bill, he's also contradicting everyone inside and outside the Pentagon, who say that the Russians are behind the hacking of federal government computer systems, something that has been happening for months, that less facts, something that was revealed by Joe Biden in answer to one of the questions that is less news coverage. Michigan's representative Elissa Slotkin is a former Assistant Secretary of Defense, she was responsible for Russia policy within the Pentagon. She warns that even though we don't think any classified information has been compromised, at least yet, the danger posed by these hacks is monumental.


Rashida Tlaib  12:26

I don't think we understand the full scope of this hack right now. I think every single day, that's why you guys are reporting every day, there's something new about who was targeted, and what backdoor was created, I think the experts are still trying to figure out what the extent of the damage was. But with with just unclassified information, it is it can be devastating, right, private conversations that we have between our ambassadors between Treasury officials, what our negotiating positions are, what our economic planning is, like, those are the kinds of things that's, you know, just sensitive, if not classified, and it still gives our adversaries a real window into what we're trying to do. It's just it puts us at a disadvantage. That's not good for anybody.


Christine Barry  13:09

And while President Elect Joe Biden has promised significant retaliation for the hacks, Trump has done nothing. Slotkin warns that doing nothing should not be an option.


Elissa Slotkin  13:20

But the problem is we've got a situation where Russia and China as well just feel like they can attack and there'll be no consequences. So we really have to build up that deterrence. And that means the Biden administration is going to be have to be very clear from day one, that it's going to be more than a press release condemning the Russians, there has to be consequences. And I want to work with the Biden ministration, from Capitol Hill, to figure out what those consequences are, whether we're talking about sanctions, whether they're going to boot out some of their officials who are here in the United States, whether we're going to build up our offensive cyber capability, but the idea that we can just keep getting attacked like this, this was an exquisite attack, and did not do anything about it. It's just it's not palatable and not possible for the next 10-15 years.


Walt Sorg  14:06

One of the things that I think is in the back of her mind, although she won't say it, but I will say it and that is, this is also awake at the same time as the president is defending Russia for hacking our computers. He's also issuing full unconditional pardons for Paul Manafort, his former campaign manager, his buddy Roger stone, and a couple of others who are all convicted for a while to the Muller investigation and to the FBI about the links between Russia and the Trump campaign in 2016. That I to me is all part of his exquisite cover up of charges which was not a complete exoneration in the Mueller report even as it was issued. But it was beautifully handled by William Barr at least beautifully handled from the standpoint of Donald Trump, and it went away. He I believe should have been impeached and convicted just for what happened in the run up to the election in 2016, let alone what he did in Ukraine later on, but he managed to squeal his way out of that one He wiggled out, He wiggled out of Ukraine, and he thinks he's impervious that he's Superman, there is no kryptonite for him, it may finally be catching up with him.


Christine Barry  15:15

Here we are, again, with Trump where you have to wonder if the entire thing that we're seeing is actually a very well thought out strategy to protect some assets somewhere. Or if he's just giving everybody the finger and, and


Walt Sorg  15:34

country the finger right now. He says, Catch me if you can, you can't


Christine Barry  15:38

know he's he's slicker than the baby oil, really. But my bigger problem right now, when I think about this is that solar winds attack and the extent of it, and the fact that we we know about was about 18,000 organizations that have been affected by the solar winds attack. And that's it, that's all we know. And these attacks are multi layer attacks. So they, if you're not familiar with how it works, solar winds is network management software. So it generally speaking, that software has access to all of the network. And it was solar winds, software that was compromised. So if you installed that on your network, then you became infected, it's a supply chain attack is what it is. And we don't even know the extent of this. So you can get infected and then that infection leads to more and more and more pieces of dormant malware on your network that'll activate later. We don't know the extent and this is just what the public is looking at people who have information on, you know, sensitive information on how this hack worked might know more than we do. But what I'm thinking is President Elect Biden is going to walk into office, maybe with the entire government still compromised, we don't know


Walt Sorg  16:54

what's the whole infrastructure that's compromised to Christine, you're looking at, you know, computers are at the heart of our power infrastructure, the power grid, they're at the heart of our air traffic control system, that there are at the heart of our control of dams that can be opened up and flood our country, they're at the heart of our entire financial system. If you have access to the inner workings of all of those things, you basically have something that's more powerful than a nuclear bomb.


Christine Barry  17:23

That's true that those things can be interfered with, and in very damaging ways. Additionally, it wasn't just the government, there were a lot of private companies, which means that intellectual property could have been stolen probably was, in fact, these attackers could have could have picked up roadmaps for a technology they could have. I mean, they can do billions of dollars in economic damage to our country, just through what they got on the out of the private sector, we just don't know. And the fact that it looks like it was cozy bear, the hacking group cozy bear that did it, which is believed to be part of Russian intelligence is very upsetting. And it reminds me, Walt, of the time when we heard that Russia had put bounties out on American troops. What the hell is wrong with Donald Trump? He didn't do anything about that. He's not saying anything about this. I mean, what, what?


Walt Sorg  18:24

Yeah, what, what? He didn't care. It doesn't care. Probably the only good thing we could say about this is that the Russians have pissed off Silicon Valley. And that's where the real brain trust of internet people are located because they pay better than the government by far. So when you've got Amazon and Microsoft and Cisco and all those folks that are saying, Hey, what are you doing to us? There are more much more dangerous enemy for the Russians when it comes to cyber warfare than the US government. Pretty powerful people. One more thing on the pardons before we move on to other Well, a little bit happier subjects. And that is one of the latest recipients of a pardon is 69 year old Mark siljander. He is a former member of the Michigan legislature and later a Michigan representative in Congress who pled guilty in 2010, to obstruction of justice and acting as an unregistered foreign agent on behalf of the Islamic American relief agency, which is a terrorist link organization. It's all kind of complicated, what he was convicted for. But that was a long time ago, the actions that actually took place far before he was charged and convicted. And just find it interesting that we've got that Michigan connection, he was recommended to the president by a few republicans and his minister. It's like all the other pardons. You know, that's criminals, it's murderers. And it's Trump's personal and political friends that are getting all of these pardons. Unprecedented, of course in the history of the presidency. Like a lot of other things that he does.


Christine Barry  19:57

Yep, absolutely. And this one I really thought came through because of Siljander's right to life and religion, activity and fervor. I really thought that was why he got the attention of Donald Trump.


Walt Sorg  20:12

Yeah, he was responsible for federal legislation that really restricted a choice amongst women in the United States. And I find it very telling that the person who replaced him in Congress, Fred Upton, is one of those who's really angry about this. Just stunned, said Fred Upton, I wish the President would instead focus his energy on helping millions of families and small businesses ravaged by the pandemic. Well said by Fred Upton.


Christine Barry  20:39

Well, Michigan continues to be a ray of sunshine in the otherwise dismal national numbers on COVID infections and


Walt Sorg  20:46

Your dogs happy about it.


Christine Barry  20:48

Yes, she is. She's been very stressed out by this whole thing, because mommy's home all the time. Oh, yeah. It needs me out of the house so she can have some fun. Okay, Michigan's numbers are steadily declining, leading the governor to hope she'll be able to back off on the indoor dining restrictions sooner than expected.


Walt Sorg  21:06

I think it is really telling that our numbers have been going down and down now for a couple of weeks. There's really great data. And you can look at all the charts in bridge magazine, we'll post the link to that because going through the numbers in a podcast is a little hard to understand. But the just to give you one number that really tells a lot about the story, the seven day average of cases reported in Wayne County 384 is the seven day average, the prior week, it was 500. The testing has also gone down in terms of cases for 100,000 to 35, from 46. That's a pretty significant drop. And it's been pretty consistent for the last two, three weeks. And if you look at it times out almost exactly what the governor's orders through the health department to unfortunately, keep the restaurants closed, at least for indoor dining and other things that she's put into effect. People don't like what she's done in terms of what it means to their lifestyle. But in terms of what it's doing for our health, it's been a really good thing. There's another really good article in bridge that will link to on whether or not there really is a cause and effect between the health orders and Michigan's progress. The answer is, yeah, looks like it. But you can't prove it.


Christine Barry  22:19

Yeah, you know, is it causation or just correlation? I think that with the benefit of hindsight, and with the resources of the federal government, we should be able to understand this better next year, what exactly helped and what didn't with Governor Whitmer, we have had the benefit of executive orders that have started and stopped at certain times. So we can look at those specific actions and the timeframe and, you know, map them to the numbers that we were seeing, that should be really helpful to us. Soon, we'll have vaccines on the way that's really exciting. That will be another data point for us to look at see how this, how these numbers go up and down. You know, one thing I want to say those people who are unhappy with the pause to save lives, and the ban on indoor dining and that kind of thing. You know, they really want to be trusted, but so many of them simply refuse to wear masks and social distance, that the word trust is not something that can come into play here because you can't be trusted to do what's right. Because of either freedom or plandemic or God's beautiful immune system, whatever reason, so many of them use to not be careful about COVID. They, it takes someone like a governor Whitmer to come in and say, Well, you can't do this. And you can't do that. Because it's a public health concern, not a personal health concern.


Walt Sorg  23:47

You know, we've been very critical of a lot of Republican leaders for being a part of the problem and rather the solution by being loose, fast and loose with the with mask requirements and those sorts of things. So it's important to point out somebody who I think is leading in the right direction, somebody who I don't agree with a lot politically very often. That's Rocky Rozcowski, who is the chair of the Oakland County Republican Party. Thankfully, he has just recovered from a fairly serious bout of COVID-19. But even before he caught it, he was a proponent and then an outspoken proponent of the behavior that we need to do our best to avoid this problem, including masks, including social distancing. And I gave him credit for doing the right thing and for continuing to do the right thing, even after has been affected. One of the things he told the free precedence story over the weekend, is he's going to be donating plasma so that his antibodies can be harvested out to help people that are done with the disease. So hats off, Way to go Rocky.


Christine Barry  24:48

Oh, yeah, that's great. And you know what, God bless that guy. I did not know that he he had COVID I'm glad that he recovered. He's the the Republican who always seems to be the one to step in When there's a blank on a ballot, so when they need somebody to fill a candidate position, it's like, Alright, well, we don't have a candidate. So let's get Rocky, Rocky will run, he'll put up a fight. And I don't know much about rocky other than he's that candidate. But I do appreciate his efforts on COVID. And I'm glad that he recovered. So thank you for bringing that up. You know, one other thing I was going to point out was that it seems like the health directives about not gathering on Thanksgiving, or over the Thanksgiving holiday seems to have worked because we did not have a fallout from that holiday.


Walt Sorg  25:38

Yeah, and hopefully a lot of people felt the same way over the Christmas holiday that we're continuing to enjoy right now and will feel the same next weekend, during the New Year's holiday, I actually got lucky, I was able to get together with my family, because everybody who was in attendance at our little family gathering with the exception of me has had COVID and recovered from it. So they were all in capable, according to their doctors of spreading it to me. And of course, I've been a hermit. You know, the only way I talked to people on the outside is via zoom, it seems like and so I was able to, to have a fairly good Christmas with family. And I know several other families that were the same way. But anybody who just reached out beyond that, God help them but we don't need another surge on top of the surge, especially with the progress we've made in Michigan. Please people be careful.


Walt Sorg  26:28

One of the major impacts of the pandemic beyond the health concerns, of course, has been on our schools and our school kids. The schools have been closed more often over the last six months than they have been open at least in terms of in person training. God bless the teachers and the administrators who are trying to figure all of this out. But as good as they are and as dedicated as they are there is damage. The damage to kids education may be enormous. And how do we recover? To get some answers, I talked with former state school superintendent Tom Watkins about the challenges of fixing the damage.


Walt Sorg  27:02

Tom, we've got an ongoing dilemma with our public schools, our K 12 system is just been in shambles. Now ever since the spring, the school districts are getting used to it a little bit better. But the fact remains, we've got too many kids at home, we are unsure about the safety of our kids going back to school when that happens in the beginning of the new semester. Let's so let's start off first of all, with how serious is the damage right now to the kids.


Tom Watkins  27:27

It's very serious. I mean, we have children that are quite honestly unaccounted for. We have children that are home alone, you know, take that Christmas story that they're that aren't getting the support that they need. The school districts weren't ready to switch over to online learning. And so we have some districts that are doing exceptionally well. Teachers were prepped, prepared, And the courses are rigorous. And a lot others are, let's just say that they could use some quality improvement in improving that. And it's not as though we're not spending money, we still got about $15 billion, if I recall the numbers correctly of school aid that's going out to our school districts, and tremendous pressures that are on them as well to not only to educate children in the traditional way, but making sure that all kids have access to a handheld device, a laptop or a desktop that they can use a quiet place to to study and the issue of broadband. what COVID has done is he kind of highlighted the level of inequities that we have in our society in general. And certainly, you know, in spades is a relates to public education across the state. And it's most highly problematic, not only in our urban areas, which people would reflect on their rural communities as well, where kids are going to have to hang out outside of the the local McDonald's, perhaps and even are in order to get an internet connection.


Walt Sorg  29:08

how big an investment would it take to get it to the point where every kid actually could learn or try to learn online at least don't put we'll get into the issue of how much they are learning online in a moment. But just having the ability is having that as an option.


Tom Watkins  29:23

Well, I think what we need to do on this is we're in the middle of a pandemic, the middle of a crisis in the middle of a disaster. But this too, shall pass. I mean, the good news is more vaccines are becoming available. And hopefully, in the new school year, we'll be back to normal, but we should not go back to normal. While what we should be doing is acting like my two year old grandson that I just spent two weeks watching 8-10 hours a day asking that powerful question the two year old ask why Why weren't you We prepared in order to switch to online learning. These are issues that we've known about. We knew they were great inequities in internet access. There's no reason why in this day and age, that internet should not be available to all people around our state and around our nation. You know, when I can travel in rural parts of China, and have access to the internet more easily than I can, in some parts of our state, there's something seriously wrong about that, we need to ask what we need to do, to take a look at what has been anchors, during this time and sales, what has enabled school districts to really provide the level of quality education, we ought to evaluate each school districts on align capabilities, you know, going forward, there's no reason to have what we enjoyed a lot. And that is a snow day. School never needs to end with a robust online, e learning blended learning platform that really is about our children's future and not our past.


Walt Sorg  31:12

Another part of the challenge is the supervision of the children. One of the things schools have always been is daycare centers for all practical purposes, especially with two income parents or with single parents that are have to go out and work. If they've got to supervise their kids, they can't be out earning a living, which just exacerbates the problem for lower income groups, whether they're living in the middle of Detroit, or the middle of the Upper Peninsula.


Tom Watkins  31:36

Absolutely. Again, what we've seen in this pandemic is the inequities around the state around the nation, in fact, around the world, where they have are doing okay, they're able to have support a child that has access, where you're not just sharing one handheld device among three children, where you have parents with education that are at home, with flexibility in their work schedule, as opposed to the parent has to run off and work at a job at McDonald's and Burger King and Wendy's in order to pay the rent. So the inequities that we're seeing are being exacerbated in our school children across the state.


Walt Sorg  32:16

Education is far more than just reading riting and rithmetic, or the stem curriculum, it's also the socialization that is a part of being in a school, it's being in the band, it's being in sports activities, the drama groups, the clubs that meet after classes, that's been permanently lost for a lot of kids, can we get it back? Can they get it? Can they get it back, they've lost a year of socialization,


Tom Watkins  32:42

they have lost the year of socialization. And this is why it's extremely important. The new person appointed to the Secretary of Education at the federal level by by by his background, and his understanding is education. Our schools are more than just a curriculum. They are social networks, we have to deal with the social, emotional needs of our children, the social aspect of education feeding a lot of our children across this country, the only nutritious meal they may get in a day, is that at a school, so that Campion, what is what good superintendents are doing the local level, is bringing together those community resources, not just assuming that you're going to get everything at your local school building, or through the online learning at school, bringing in housing, social services, mental health services, as you know, I served as a mental health director in the state and finding ways to deal with those emotional needs of our children are just as critical as reading writing and rithmetic.


Walt Sorg  33:49

Let's assume and let's hope that by September of 2021, things are back to normal in terms of our health, that we have conquered this virus by then. And it certainly looks good that we'll be able to do it by then what additional steps to educators and government have to take to help these kids who have watched a full year in so many ways. How do we help them catch up?


Tom Watkins  34:09

I think that we're going to need additional resources to make sure that the kids get the education they need and deserve. There's some children that that will come back and hadn't skipped a beat. But there's going to be a lot of kids that are going to be behind and they're reading. They're writing their arithmetic skills, and we're going to need some federal and state resources that are going to be targeted at that thing. We also need to have governor Whitmer pull together a task force and ask what went right, what went wrong? What are the sales, if you will, that helped us soar during this pandemic and help kids and what were the anchors that were holding us back? We need to engage teachers, frontline teachers and ask them what they need. You know, our public schools are the true Statue of Liberty, this great nation of ours. There's not another institution in America today that truly takes the tired, the hungry, the poor, the huddled masses, children just speak English language, as a second language, in children with disability and give them hope and opportunity. And our teachers are great teachers, the torch lighting the way for us all. But too, oftentimes, while they're left on the sideline, when these policy decisions are made, so we need to engage teachers, and ask them what they need, what tools, what resources do they need, in order to help our children soar moving forward.


Walt Sorg  35:30

And what about the teachers themselves,


Tom Watkins  35:32

we've lost a lot of them, we have lost a lot, there was a teacher shortage before this pandemic, and nothing that's going on over the last nine months is help that situation. A lot of teachers have said to me, that they have felt like the gum on the bottom of a shoe being treated during this process. We need to find ways to support great educators getting them the tools that they need, so that they can educate our kids. Our children aren't just competing against the kids in Wisconsin, or, or California, and need to be able to compete and collaborate with the children of the world. The fact is, is that China and I was doing work there in education, didn't skip a beat. During this pandemic, their schools went online very quickly. And because the national government we can argue, the authoritative nature of China, but they pulled their selves out of a morass a lot quicker than we have. And they're getting their kids the education right now that they're going to help them be better prepared for the 21st century.


Walt Sorg  36:46

Yo, let's do a shift over to China. That is another part of your portfolio that is very varied. And the relations between the United States and China certainly very rocky over the last four years, and been kind of up and down one day, the president loved Xi The next day, it was the the Wuhan virus, the China virus. What do you see happening under the new administration in terms of relations with China? What should be the direction of the new policy?


Tom Watkins  37:13

Well, I think that there's a reset that is going on on China, we need to assure that China's rise doesn't come at our demise. Trying to hold China back at this point in time, would like be like building a chain link fence to stop a tsunami that's coming ashore? So the question I shouldn't be, in my estimation of what are we doing to hold China back? It's what are we doing to propel America forward. And a lot of that goes right back into what we were just talking about. When we invest in the American people. Good things happen for all of us, when we invest in education and pays dividends for all of our society. So what I would like to see is not just a defensive strategy to hold China back, that an offensive strategy that is investing in education from the cradle to the to the grave, to rescaling our workforce providing resources for those middle aged workers that may not have the skills to thrive as the changes that are going on investing perhaps in free community college or two years after high school. And as I said before, we need to ask ourselves, why, you know, why does education today take 12 years? Why not maybe make it 11 years and invest that those that last year, which to many people I used to call it state subsidized dating, and in the senior year, they know where they've either been admitted, schools are not going, and they're kind of coasting on the way out. Why not invest that in a free year of community college, or retraining, we really need to reimagine a lot of our relationships, not only on the international stage, but also locally.


Walt Sorg  39:02

And for Michigan, it's especially critical We are an exporter, both of agricultural and manufactured goods. And once you get past Canada and Mexico, China is our biggest customer already. And with more than a billion people over there, that's one hell of a market to be selling into.



It is just a lot of people say is 1.4 billion consumers. And we need to find a way not just to make China the boogeyman, but find ways where we can export our goods and services to the People's Republic of China, and find ways where they can invest locally. Take a look at next year. If you're driving up north, the old Saginaw gear and steering is owned by a Chinese company that has provided some high paying UAW jobs. So we want to make sure if there's going to be investment in ways that can create jobs and opportunity, that that investment is made in our state in our nation. But also, as you say, point out selling our goods and services to China, and around the world is only going to be good for all of us.


Walt Sorg  40:07

Tom Watkins, always enlightening to talk with you, thank you so much for joining us have a wonderful new year, as I like to say 2021 certainly going to be better than 2020 because it can't get no worse.


Tom Watkins  40:18

Yeah, and remember, it is the year of the ox, which is supposed to be a prosperous year for us all under the Chinese zodiac. So hopefully, that will prove to be true this year,


Walt Sorg  40:29

from your lips to God's ear. Thanks so much. Take care of all.


Christine Barry  40:33

I would also like to say that I've really seen some extraordinary work from the teachers and the administration, and staff in my own school district, they've worked so hard to make sure that this pandemic had minimal impact on their kids, many of them have put in extra hours just trying to figure out how to make sure that the educational experience is equal. For all of the kids, even the ones who had a disadvantage with bandwidth or a disadvantage in terms of just being able to adapt to remote learning. Our district is is just so incredible. And I'm I'm so pleased that I was able to serve on the board there, My term is actually up Walt, I didn't run again. So we we are in the last few year a lame duck, Is it my turn? I am. I am and I had an opinion about something and I kept my mouth shut because I'm like, you know what I'm leaving. And I'm not gonna say anything. And I'm gonna let my replacement who is very capable of dealing with it.


Walt Sorg  41:39

Unlike some people who are playing golf in southern Florida this weekend, there are a lot of heroes that are being created by this pandemic, the school teachers and school administrators are certainly high on that list along with health care workers, and the first responders. But we're gonna get a new group of heroes as the schools reopened, at least for the high schools in January. And that's the bus drivers and the people that maintain those buses, that is tough. Just think about getting those kids back and forth and doing it safely. It is a big challenge of those bus drivers, they don't make a whole lot of money. And their hours are pretty funky too. So God bless him for being there on behalf the kids.


Christine Barry  42:18

And if I can add one more thing on that point, the bus drivers can't make a lot of money because the schools don't have a lot of money. The schools are really under resourced. They were under resourced going into the pandemic and the pandemic made every single thing excruciating. Everything had to debate be debated how we were going to do testing how we were going to, it doesn't even matter what you fill in there. At the end of that sentence, everything had to be debated. And our superintendent was constantly contacting other districts, other superintendents, what are you doing, here's what we're doing, constantly talking to our attorney to make sure that everything we were trying to do was legal. And of course, we were always waiting for the next word out of Lansing. I really appreciate the help that Lansing did give us which very little of that had to do with the republicans in the legislature. But I appreciate the direction from the governor for sure. Because that helped a lot. And our local health departments, as well across Michigan had been had been really helpful.


Walt Sorg  43:19

You know, I find it fascinating how there is so little correlation between how much people make an income and whether or not we consider them essential workers. You know, you get the health care workers at one and they do pretty well, the doctors especially but nurses are well paid as well. You have public safety people that make a fairly decent living. But you know, where are we be without the people that are stocking grocery shelves, people that are driving the buses and things like that, where they make far less money, and yet they're considered essential. It's a very interesting time to assess our priorities when it comes to how people get paid and how much they get paid.


Christine Barry  43:58

It is and the fact that you're, the amount of money you earn is tied to each hour you put into working the whole hourly wage thing. But that's, that could go on and on and on, as well.


Walt Sorg  44:12

I always think about the guy who's the 25th guy on a major league baseball team bench, you know, the backup shortstop who's making at least a million dollars a year, he's making his million, while somebody who's actually necessary to keep us alive is making minimum wage.


Christine Barry  44:27

Yeah, and many of these people that you mentioned, including the healthcare professionals are drowning in debt. So there's another aspect to it, but you know, you're gonna get me all worked up. Well, I'm going to start to rant so we better move on. We've got tons of political notes.


Walt Sorg  44:42

Let's go there.


Christine Barry  44:43

All right. All right. Lots of political notes as we close out the year. First up, we've got some pushback on the dozens of losing lawsuits filed in Michigan and elsewhere. By the lawyers on behalf of Donald Trump. Attorney General Dana Nessel is looking at challenging those lawyers for filing what they knew were bogus claims wasting taxpayer money and the time of federal and state judges. And what's going on here Walt is you have you have a couple of different things you have. First of all, Wayne County resident and voter Robert Davis. He filed a motion for sanctions against the attorneys who filed King versus Whitmer. And I don't know if you are familiar with King versus Whitmer, but it was based largely on Antrim Township and Windows updates. I mean, it was, it was just silly. So Robert Davis wants financial sanctions against the attorneys and he wants to have them barred from practicing in federal courts in the Eastern District. Then you have the city of Detroit, they want the same thing as Davis, but they also want the requirement that the plaintiffs and the counsel, their counsel post a bond of $100,000 prior to filing any other action related to that case, and then Attorney General Nessel said that when those lawsuits are concluded, she will file for sanctions, court costs and attorney fees. And one ugly note Giuliani never had his name on any of these lawsuits, and he never testified under oath. So he is largely protected from any repercussions.


Walt Sorg  46:15

Lawyers are prohibited from filing lawsuits that have no merit you can be so you can lose your license for that you can be suspended. So complaints to the administrative boards that take care of lawyer discipline in the various states can have an effect on these attorneys. On the other side of the coin now is the people that have been maligned unfairly by all of these conspiracy theories are beginning to strike back. I saw an item over the weekend that dominion, which makes the software and the hardware that's used to count votes, is sending out very nasty lawyer letters and probably getting ready to sue people like Melissa Corone, who were claiming without any substance, that Dominion rigged the election. And they're they're angry beyond belief, because their whole business is predicated on trust, and the trust of state elections officials. And I'm not sure how much money they can get from our dear beloved, suburban Detroit housewife and part time cleaner. She thought it was interesting, by the way, she claimed that she was a big Insider for their operation down in Wayne County on election night, she was actually hired through a temp agency to clean the glass on the scanners. She was basically a high priced janitor,


Christine Barry  47:27

they should push back they should I mean, they've been smeared at every level, since Trump came out and said that the election was stolen. Right? Right on election night. Dominion employees are getting threatened, the company has been smeared and these are outright lies, a lot of them are outright lies about where the CEO lives or is from, or who owns the software, who how the machines work, everything about these these things are lies. And there has been no repercussion of those to those people who have been spreading those lies. And in the United States, if you have done damage to somebody like this by spreading lies, and they can prove that you did it maliciously, then you're going to pay for it one way or another. And if if that means that they take you to court or they embarrass you, or they at least can clear their name and show that you're a liar than that's, that's pretty important. And I mean, come on Dominion employees getting death threats. Come on.


Walt Sorg  48:28

Melissa, by the way put out a statement that she was not in fact drunk. When she testified to the Michigan legislature. Anytime you have to put out a statement, say you weren't drunk, you've got a problem.


Christine Barry  48:41

Well I would rather have just said, Hey, I was hammered. When I did that. I would not come out and say no, that's me in my right mind.


Walt Sorg  48:49

Yeah, it's like Donald Trump Jr. Say No, I had not done a line of coke before I gave that speech at the Republican National Convention. And neither had my girlfriend didn't stop Jimmy Kimmel at all, from having a lot of fun with that. Part of the bad news of what help has been provided so far for the unemployed, is of course the fraud. There's really a tough decision to be made. Do we move quickly and get this money out? Or do we take the steps necessary to avoid as much fraud as possible, and every state opted to get it out as quickly as they could, even though they had fraud detection mechanisms in place that were somewhat helpful, but it's now being reported of the $500 billion so far, in regular and pandemic unemployment aid has been distributed so far this year, billions of that has gone to fraudsters. And it's not just Michigan by any means. Although Michigan's probably had its share. Its every state in the nation California, Louisiana, Illinois and Maryland. Others are reporting very high levels of discovering fraud after the fact. And that's just a sad fact of life when there's a lot of money out there. There are going to be bad guys that are doing everything they can to steal some with that money,


Christine Barry  50:01

yeah, this is an unusual, you know, US taxpayers have probably lost billions in the pandemic. But it's not just because of unemployment fraud. There's so many different kinds of fraud that are around the theme of the pandemic. And people are just losing money hand over fist, because they've fallen for fake cures. Remember, in the beginning, I think someone was selling copper. I don't know something. Alex Jones, I think was selling something. I mean, there's just people, the thing that you need to have a successful scam is a sense of urgency, or fear. Or you have your, you know, the victims guard is, is down. And that's what we have through COVID. You have those elements, and whether it's, it's selling someone a fake cure, or it's filing unemployment, and the unemployment system just isn't prepared for that kind of scam. Or there's just so many different things that people that these criminals have done, billions have been lost to these guys. And remember, we have w two tax fraud every year as well. W twos go out, they get into the wrong hands and people file tax returns in the name of the real people, and then they claim their refund. So this isn't really new, but it's at a time when so many people are so desperate.


Christine Barry  51:22

Well, an examination of post election reports confirms what we already knew. Very rich people are playing a big role in Michigan elections, with most but not all of the billionaire class favoring Republicans. And this is from an analysis by The Detroit News, a federal and state fundraising disclosures. They looked at the 10 families, the biggest donors, eight of them are giving millions to the Republicans two are giving millions to the Democrats. Here's how it broke down. The Republicans, those eight families gave $25.9 million to Republicans. And the DeVos family represents just over 40% of that. The DeVos family donated 10 point 7,000,002 republican causes out of a total of 25 25.9. On the Democratic side, you have john hunting and john Stryker with 4.7 million and john Stryker gave 3.5 million of that. So he's about 75% of the total donations in that breakdown.


Walt Sorg  52:25

And Stryker's money mostly goes to national campaigns, it doesn't get involved in state campaigns anymore. The other one that was kind of interesting was the Meijer family came up with $2.4 million. And most of that largest went to Peter Meyer, a lot of it was his own money. But he just want to seat in Congress, largely on the strength of his family's massive wealth, as well as running a good campaign. I'm gonna take anything away from him. But the fact remains that Peter Meyer, he personally loaned his own campaign $1.4 million. And from talking with Hillary Scholten, and I know that's probably about 1000 times more than she was capable of loaning to her campaign. Other Meijer family members gave $300,000 to the retailer's main level state pack. So the Meijer families fifth on the list with a total of $2.4 million dollars. Us representative Lisa MacLean, who is replacing Paul Mitchell in the house, she loaned her campaign $1.7 million. Virtually all of that was used to win the primary because that's a very republican seat. Ron wiser and his wife who are Ron is the former chair of the Michigan Republican Party, and he's looking to come back again, which is going to be interesting because Laura Cox doesn't want to give it up. But Ron gave $1.6 million in political contributions. I should say that I happen to know that Ron wiser is also very generous with the University of Michigan. He's given millions to the university over the years. So his money doesn't just go to politics, but a good reporting by Craig Mogra of the detroit news, which is no surprise on this subject. He is the former executive director of the Michigan campaign finance network. So he's been reading campaign finance reports for a long time.


Christine Barry  54:05

Yeah. And just real quick, let's point out that most of these families do give, they do have their own charitable projects that they give to you. So the


Walt Sorg  54:14

Meijer garden the Meijer Gardens alone, my God, that's one of the most magnificent charitable funded operations in the world.


Christine Barry  54:21

But look at how different these are. You mentioned Peter Meyer, and you. You mentioned Lisa McLean to successful candidates who loaned themselves millions of dollars to run for office, something that you mentioned, Hillary couldn't do. So many candidates, Democratic candidates in particular come out of activism, or something else that is a, you know, a lower class or lower middle class background, and they go up against these millionaires, and I think he can really see the difference. Yeah, Peter Meyer didn't run for congress because he believes in eliminating Poverty, or making sure that voters aren't disenfranchised based on ethnicity, or systemic racism. He went for a different reason. And I know we went for a different reason because he loaned himself $2.4 million. It just kind of speaks to that. I think it's a really interesting picture of the difference between rich and poor politics.


Walt Sorg  55:24

Moving on in Michigan, the newly formed independent citizens redistricting commission is in the process of hiring its staff and consultants to assist in the process of drawing new congressional and legislative district boundaries, which for the first time won't be gerrymandered because it's being done by voters and not politicians. They're doing so and it's becoming very clear that one of Michigan's 14 congressional districts will in fact disappear completely, because of population shifts in the nation. You can see when you look at a map of these, and we will link to the map from the Associated Press, that a lot of the more populated industrial states, especially in the northeast, from Illinois, going east are losing population, or stagnant at best Michigan's population actually dropped just a fraction of 1%. between 2019 and 2020 was down 0.18%, the state of New York lost even more population between 2019 and 2020, down points 0.65%, Illinois had a drop of comparable to New York's Pennsylvania's drop was about the same as Michigan. So it goes on and on and on and on. Even California, showed a little bit of a drop. And the big winners, of course, are a couple of the Sunbelt states, Florida and Texas, to say the least. And Arizona had a huge population shift as well. So the power politically in this country for both the Electoral College and the House of Representatives is shifting geographically.


Christine Barry  56:52

Yeah. And overall, five states may gain one seat, nine states may lose one seat, you know, like you said, the the power is shifting. Part of the problem is that, too, is that people are waiting longer to have children pure research says that this has been true since the 1970s births for women in their 40s increased and Millennials are having children after the age of 35. So you know, it's interesting to see why the population is decreasing as well, not just where the population is going.


Walt Sorg  57:26

I think eventually it's going to flow back here because we've got water and water in the natural resource.


Christine Barry  57:33

People upset with the claims of 126 US House Republicans that the 2020 election was rigged as one possible assist for Michigan and other states. Take the House members who signed a court filing claiming their own reelection was in a rigged election shouldn't be automatically allowed to take their seat in the new Congress. And the people in the Michigan representatives who did sign on to that are Tim Walberg, Bill Huizenga, jack Bergman, and john Molnar. Now, Paul Mitchell and Fred Upton did not sign on to that.


Walt Sorg  58:06

And remember, Justin Amash is yeah,


Christine Barry  58:09

I forgot about, I forgot about Justin.


Walt Sorg  58:11

Yeah, people are just in a while.


Christine Barry  58:14

I know I'm liking him more and more. But again, he's leaving. So that tends to do that.


Walt Sorg  58:20

What do you think?


Christine Barry  58:21

Well, when we, when we talked about this last week, I thought that, you know, I remember thinking that it feels good to say let's not seat them. I mean, that the thought of that feels good. But look, Biden is calling for unity. And if you were to not see these four people that's like, what two and a half million people who would be disenfranchised. There are other ways to punish them. Right,


Walt Sorg  58:43

about two and a half million people. And they should be sanctioned somehow, although the things that could be done are pretty limited, it could impact their committee assignments, but that would take the cooperation of the rest of the Republican caucus, which isn't likely. But beyond that, it's the voters ultimately, I think elected officials should answer to the voters unless they do something that's outright crooked. And of course, if they do something that's outright crooked, and your president happens to be equally crooked, you get a pardon. Right, which has happened now with three members of Congress and counting as we go on. In the next few weeks. The state elections office and board of canvassers is going to be certifying the petitions to add LGBTQ protections to the Elliot Larson Civil Rights Act. After that the new legislature has 40 days to approve an acting the law without changes. If the legislature does not sign off on the law. It automatically goes to the 2022 ballot for a vote of the people. Trevor Thomas who led the successful petition drive. Outline the next immediate step to supporters on a recent conference call. Very soon,


Trevor Thomas  59:48

we will launch an all hands push to push attention toward the 40 day window when the citizens bill will be on the floor. This Again in order to avoid in q4, and 2021 and 2022 ballot campaign, but we will have the resources and be prepared if it comes to it.


Christine Barry  1:00:13

the legislature's Republican leaders are hostile to the change which flies in the face of the will of the people. According to pollster Richard Czuba, who has been taking the public's temperature on this issue for years.


Richard Czuba  1:00:25

I've been polling Michigan now for 37 years. And I can say that there is no single issue we pull on, that has seen a greater shift in public support than LGBTQ rights. And one of the great shifts we saw was back in the early days, when we were pulling on these issues, maybe 40% of voters would say they knew somebody in their family, their friends, their circle their co workers. Today, that number of Michigan voters who know somebody that is LGBTQ is up to 82%. And that is an extraordinarily powerful number, as all of you on this call, understand who have worked on this for years. That number is what has shifted minds in this state.


Christine Barry  1:01:11

And according to Czuba more than three fourths of Michigan voters agree that LGBTQ discrimination in housing and employment is wrong and should be illegal.


Richard Czuba  1:01:21

This starts at 77.5% support. And when you ask how strongly Do you support this policy, 66.3% of voters strongly support a law that would make it illegal to fire or deny housing to anybody, because they are LGBTQ. That's an extraordinary place to start. One of the great challenges we'll face in this campaign is most people are incredulous to find out this is not already the line in Michigan. And that's one of our challenges to make sure people understand this is this discrimination is occurring, and it is allowed to occur in Michigan. And once you once we go through that process, it is very, very difficult to turn a voter against this proposal.


Walt Sorg  1:02:11

One way or another this is going to happen and what's going to happen in the next couple of years. If it goes to the ballot, it will pass overwhelmingly. I know when we were working on the anti gerrymandering constitutional amendment. When we started out two thirds of the people didn't even know what the hell we're talking about, let alone support the proposal. And once we described it to people, we had a lot of soft support. Many people kind of leaned in our direction. But this issue, the support is very, very strong. And as zuba told the conference call. A lot of people think this is already illegal, when in fact it is illegal to fire somebody or deny him housing just because of who they share a bed with. Pretty pretty strange situation.


Walt Sorg  1:02:52

Meanwhile, the republican coalition that is collecting signatures and is hell bent on making it impossible for any governor to respond quickly to an emergency as big as the pandemic are continuing to push forward. And they are now getting very strong and very vocal support from the Republican leader of the State Senate. Mike shirkey, says shirkey Michigan citizens are at their limit as he wrote in a Friday email sent out by unlike Michigan, which is the right wing anti Whitmer Pro, get rid of the masks group. We are going to come out on the other side of this virus but jobs will be eliminated businesses will be closed, livelihoods will be destroyed and lives will be lost because of Gretchen Whitmer. Enough is enough. He argues that the business restriction should be lifted because residents should be trusted not to spread the virus, saying Gretchen Whitmer is the only thing standing in the way. I would refer the good senator Shirky to the pictures from the frisky firm up north over the holiday where people gathered with a in a business that said we're not going to worry about masks and tell me how responsible people are going to be if left to their own devices.


Christine Barry  1:04:01

Yeah, well, you know, two things on that, to your point. And what we said earlier, it isn't about trust, trust can't come into play. We've we've already seen that trust is not an issue. So no people can't be trusted. Some of them certainly would be but for the most part, people are just out there talking about freedom and how the whole thing is a scam or how comorbidities are killing people and you know, the flu kills more people and I mean it just a bunch of ignorance out there getting in the way of putting on a mask and distancing. The other point look at the language that you just that you just quoted. lives will be lost because of Gretchen Whitmer. Gretchen Whitmer is the only thing standing in the way. At the end of this email, there's there's this tiny little line of  Please act with diplomacy. Or like, like, I guess that's plausible denial in case something happens he can say hey, I asked them To be statesman like in the way that they acted, this is another dog whistle. And it's really, I'm really getting sick of these elected leaders doing this.


Walt Sorg  1:05:09

There are so many examples of why this argument about freedom and respond personal responsibility is so specious. We have lots of state laws and regulations that restrict your life in some way. Or if people were just responsible and could be trusted, we wouldn't need them. Why do we have speed limits? It shouldn't everybody be trusted to only go 70 miles an hour on the interstate instead of flying by at 110, even with a law against it. If I'm going down, I 69. I will be doing 70 miles an hour, shall we say? Although it's probably not the truth, I'll be passed by somebody who's doing 100. And it happens every time that I go down there. And that's what the law that says it's a very serious offense. Without the law, it would be like the autobahn in Germany, everybody would be going crazy. You know, the reality is we've we enact laws because we can't trust people to always act responsibly.


Christine Barry  1:06:01

Well, and again, people who say that masks and social distancing are personal health decisions, like vaccines. That's a personal health decision. It's not it's a community health decision. We're not asking you to brush your teeth. You know, that's your personal health decision. Nobody cares, other than people close to you if you want to brush your teeth. But this is about protecting the public, not about your personal health decision. Oh, here I go. Getting into rant mode,


Walt Sorg  1:06:27

you know, a little bit more on the rant mode, and then we can move on. A lot of these are the same people who say the government should tell a woman whether or not she has to give birth to a baby.


Christine Barry  1:06:36

If you just heard a popping sound that was my head popping off. Yeah. Okay, all right. Time for our political attack ad of the week, and surprisingly, it does not come from the duel Georgia senate runoff races. Instead, it's an ad created by the we can't stand Trump republicans at the Lincoln project. One of their stated objectives is to get inside Donald Trump's teeny tiny head and make him crazier, and they apparently have done it with a 32nd. Spot talking about the President's until now trusted sidekick Vice President Mike Pence.


The Lincoln Project  1:07:10

The end is coming Donald. Even Mike Pence knows he's backing away from your train wreck from your desperate lies and clown lawyers. When Mike Pence is running away from you. You know, it's over, trying to save his reputation, protect his future. Oh, there's one last thing Donald. On January 6, Mike Pence will put the nail in your political coffin when he presides over the Senate vote to prove Joe Biden won. It's over. And Mike Pence knows that. The Lincoln project is responsible for the content of this advertising.


Walt Sorg  1:07:48

And we know that that ad worked in its intended purpose again inside Trump's head. multiple reports out of the White House say he is just monumentally pissed about Mike Pence and the reason for it is that so congratulations to the Lincoln project on achieving your objective. Christine, I thought we'd wrap up this segment at our 2020 series at least on a positive note. One of the best long standing traditions in legislative bodies is for the party members to give farewell speeches. They range from saccharine cornball, boring to witty short to long State House Democratic Leader Christine Gregg who leaves because of term limits, talked emotionally for 25 minutes about the upside of serving in what's been a topsy turvy state legislature.


Christine Greig  1:08:33

I love this chamber. And I love this state that I have called home for nearly 30 years. Michigan has an amazing diversity of race, religion, life experiences and perspectives that surrounds all of us. It is our challenge as lawmakers and human beings to see the good in everyone and try to craft policy that helps achieve a more perfect union, not policies and priorities that take away or diminishes the humanity of anyone. So today is the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year. So how fitting that all the days after today are going to get longer and lighter, bringing us in into a new and better world and better days. So I want to leave you with a quote from congressman john lewis. You are a light You are the light. Never let anyone any person or any force, dampen, dim or diminish your light. Release the need to hate to harbor division and the enticement of revenge. release all bitterness hold only love Only peace in your heart, knowing that the Battle of good to overcome evil is already one. Although the hundreds legislature is complete, our work is far from over.


Walt Sorg  1:10:15

I did that I've come to really like and respect representative Greg in our conversations on the podcast, regardless of a person's political leanings, they have to like and respect her for leadership ability, and basic decency as a human being, she will be missed and a lot of others are going to be missed as well. more examples of why term limits are in my mind, so self defeating, you toss out the good with the bad indiscriminately rather than leaving it to the voters. And it's so sad when you lose somebody as good as representative Christine Gregg for such an artificial reason.


Christine Barry  1:10:48

Oh, additionally, the relationships. You know, one of the things she said recently was that she did not file any kind of complaint or really pushback on our workplace safety issue. Because they weren't, you know, required to wear masks in the working space of the house. And she said she really wanted to work with this leader. And I just thought even if you had Lee Chatfield there, who is also turned out, even if you had him there for another six years, and hopefully the minority would change. But if you had the two of them there as the leaders of their caucuses for another six years, what might they have done together as they got to know each other and got to trust each other in those respective roles? And that will not never happened under term limits?


Walt Sorg  1:11:32

Yeah, I saw it firsthand when I was when I was on legislative staff, the long standing relationships. I was talking the other day with former representative Lynn Johndal was easily one of the most liberal members of the House. Back when he was serving as chair of the house taxation Committee, which isn't exactly a non controversial committee. And if you asked one of the conservative Republican members of the House, what they thought of something representative Johndal said they said they would have responded, I disagree with him, but I don't. I don't distrust him for a second. I believe what he's saying. I just don't agree with this conclusion. And that's all you can ask.


Christine Barry  1:12:07

And that's it for this week's podcast. We will be back next week with the hope that we will still have a functioning federal government, and that federal relief money is on the way to those in desperate need. And in the meantime, if you'd like to learn more about today's topics, or just out at some fun tweets, it means head on over to our show page at


Walt Sorg  1:12:30

We welcome your feedback. You can email us at you can troll us on Facebook or send us a nasty tweet. And please take a moment to review the pod on iTunes. The more reviews the higher we show in their listings, and that's a good thing at least. That's the way we see it. Our personal festivus has concluded the airing of grievances has ended, at least for now. See you next year. The Michigan Podcast is a production of Michigan citizens for a better tomorrow.

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