Inauguration, COVID recovery plans, militias. Guests Debbie Stabenow and Dana Nessel.

January 25, 2021

Michigan Policast for Monday, January 25, 2021

  In this episode:

  • Presidential Inauguration
  • Federal and state action on COVID-19
  • Senator Stabenow on the new federal alignment and what it means for Michigan
  • Bad Republicans who keep getting worse
  • Michigan AG Dana Nessel on the Flint water settlement
  • Political notes
  • Transcript



Jump to:

Presidential Inauguration






Federal and state action on COVID-19




Senator Stabenow on the new federal alignment and what it means for Michigan



Bad Republicans who keep getting worse




Michigan AG Dana Nessel on the Flint water settlement


Political notes







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. I'm Walt Sorg.


Gretchen Whitmer  00:14

Today the Department of Health and Human Services is issuing an epidemic order to resume indoor dining on Monday, February


Walt Sorg  00:22

Facing increased pressure from Michigan restaurant owners and employees across the state. And with Michigan's infection numbers continuing to improve even as vaccinations increase. The state relaxes restrictions on eating out


Christine Barry  00:35

I'm Christine Barry, there's increasing heat on two leading Michigan republicans in the aftermath of the right wing attacks on democracy. There are calls for the Senate Republican leader to resign following revelations that he's been a media adviser to the militias and would be incoming co chair of the Michigan Republican Party fights back criticism for her active support of the overturn the election movement


Walt Sorg  00:59

and our special guest this week, two of the women from Michigan will be listening to my conversations with Senator Debbie Stabenow and Attorney General Dana Nessel.


Walt Sorg  01:27

Christine last Wednesday was in fact a beautiful day with the end of our four year nightmare. President Joe Biden hit the ground not just running, but sprinting, issuing executive orders and directives at a record pace. The adults are back in charge at the White House and Congress actually talked bipartisan cooperation for nearly 24 consecutive hours. Your thoughts on the not so peaceful but very beautiful transfer of power?


Christine Barry  01:53

I'm so glad it's over. I feel the sense of relief, you know, at this weight lifted off me. But the inauguration ceremony itself, I thought was really nice. It had a bit of solemnity to it, if you will, that I thought was respectful of the people we lost to COVID. It couldn't be the celebration, I think that a lot of America wanted for having elected the first woman Vice President, the first black woman. But as a ceremony, I thought it was very nice.


Walt Sorg  02:23

To me, there were a lot of highlights over the inauguration and what followed the inauguration. It was no surprise that Joe Biden was clearly ready to act right away with a well thought out comprehensive plan to attack the four crises left behind by the previous administration. But I thought the most important symbolism for the entire week was a brief video chat on inauguration night, between presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama,


Barack Obama  02:48

I think inaugurations signal, a tradition of a peaceful transfer of power that is over two centuries old?


George W Bush  02:56

Well, I think the fact that the three of us are standing here talking about a peaceful transfer of power speaks to the institutional integrity of our country.


Bill Clinton  03:05

So this is an unusual thing. We are both trying to come back to normalcy, deal with totally abnormal challenges, and do what we do best, which is trying to make a more perfect union. It's exciting time,


Barack Obama  03:18

we've got to not just listen to folks we agree with but listen to folks we don't have one of my fondest memories of the inauguration was the grace and generosity that President Bush showed me and Laura Bush showed Michelle and it was a reminder that we can have fierce disagreements, and yet recognize each other's common humanity and bet As Americans, we have more in common than what separates us.


George W Bush  03:45

I think if Americans would love their neighbor, like they would like to be loved themselves, a lot of the division in our society


Bill Clinton  03:53

That's what this means. It's a new beginning. And everybody needs to get off their high horse and reach out to their friends and neighbors and try to make it possible.


Barack Obama  04:03

If in fact, because George said, we're looking for what binds us together, the American people are strong, they're tough, they can get through hardship. There's no problem they can't solve. While we're working together. I think that was the theme of Joe's inaugural speech. And I think all of us discovered that we're at our best when we're all moving in the same direction.


Walt Sorg  04:22

The obvious message of stressing unity reinforced President Biden's inaugural address, of course, as well as his theme throughout the campaign. But I think there was another really clear message from that triumvirate, the former president who wasn't there is now irrelevant to our future. Joe Biden will spend a lot of time cleaning up his mess. But the one time game show host can go back to running his golf courses and hotels, as well as figuring out how to avoid being convicted by the Senate, stave off the financial collapse of his company and dodge multiple potential criminal charges and civil lawsuits. But he's no longer a part of our national dialogue. At least I hope that The case given the other end of his Twitter account anymore, he really doesn't seem to be much of a person. So I think that's probably best for all of us.


Christine Barry  05:06

One of the things we talked about, or they talked about was that the inauguration was to celebrate the peaceful transfer of power. And I feel like they couldn't have that celebration this year, partially because of the pandemic. And obviously, because of the security, you know, sadly, Trump did that. And it's just, that's a heartbreaking thing, I think. And the second thing that I I took away from that was President Obama saying, you know, we have to listen to people we disagree with, I think President Clinton said, Get off your high horse, that kind of thing. He was referring to everybody, of course, but there has to be a line that you're not willing to cross like, I will talk to anybody about tax policy and border security and any other policy you want. But I just cannot treat your opinion with merit or respect. If your opinion is that immigrants come from, you know, shithole countries, and they're murderers and rapists, I can't respect that. You know what I mean? And if your evidence is you hold out this one illegal immigrant who killed somebody in a drunk driving crash, and that's why we need to strengthen our borders. I can't respect that. I mean, there's a lot of things I just can't respect. And I think there should be maybe not at President Obama's level. But I think that as people, we need to recognize that we can choose between the reasonable people who are out there who want to talk about policy, and the unreasonable one, we once we have to acknowledge that they're there. And those are the that's the group of people where I think unfortunately, Trump will remain relevant, those segments of society that are crazy.


Walt Sorg  06:50

Well, I think the bifurcation now that's going on the Civil War, if you will, within the Republican Party, is really going to define what happens in this administration. As you'll hear in the discussion I have with Debbie Stabenow that were recorded a little bit earlier. She and I both believe that the centrists in the Congress, especially in the Senate, are going to be ruling the day that the far right in the Republican Party is going to be totally irrelevant. The Tom Cotton's the Rand Paul's, the Ted Cruz's and the judge, he's even worse Hollies, they're going to be totally irrelevant. They're gonna make a lot of noise. They're gonna continue to campaign for the 2024 nomination. But in terms of impact the policy, they won't make a whole lot of difference. Mitch McConnell's still very important but also the centrists, the ones that can be brought over. They're not going to go all the way. But clearly people like Mitt Romney and Susan Collins, and Lisa Murkowski and several others. Mike Rounds, I was just watching him earlier today on one of the Sunday shows. He's clearly a conservative Republican, but he's not nuts. You know, he's more in the chris Christie lane. Of You know, there's some things that we can get along on even though we disagree fundamentally on some things, you can see with the COVID relief bill, I'm pretty sure that the reason they put the minimum wage increase into that bill was so the democrats had something they could give up. Because that's not going to happen. And they're not going to get bipartisan support for a COVID relief bill that attacks, the minimum wage should go up, no question about it. But I think the people on the outside the political commentators on TV at least have recognized that's going to be one of the first things to go, they may compromise on it. But certainly we're not going to get a $15 national minimum wage out of the bill. But if we can get the rest of the bills a big step forward, and that's what compromises about.


Christine Barry  08:36

Yeah, and when this country is working properly, everything is about compromise. I mean, even by partisan achievements, nobody is 100% happy with those. And that's okay. I mean, the Bill of Rights was a compromise. You know, when you talk about those far right, the Trump wing I don't, they might not be getting anywhere federally, I think at the state level and the local levels, we still have a concern. And we have to recognize Well, I think that the proud boys, the oathkeepers, the three percenters those crazy people, they were there all the time. There were the 911 truth is they were just the people with the conspiracy theories, along with people like the Michigan militia who are kind of borderline there. They were all there before Trump. Trump kind of joined them. He kind of brought them with him, gave them voice and they took over the Republican Party. Misha Maddock. For example, on January 6, tweeted out this is Trump's party now. You know, that's not going to go away just because Trump is doing whatever he's doing in Florida. We


Walt Sorg  09:38

should remind people who she is.


Christine Barry  09:40

Oh, yeah. Incoming co chair right


Walt Sorg  09:42

of the Michigan Republican Party,


Christine Barry  09:44

Michigan Republican Party. I wasn't sure if she already took over.


Walt Sorg  09:47

One thing that Senator Rounds said in his interview, I thought was I'd meet the press that I actually agree with and that is, you know, he doesn't believe that the election was fraudulent or the election was fixed and the Joe Biden won. Fair and square and it was a good election. He says though the Democrats should be wanting to have hearings. So they can demonstrate to the vast majority, at least of American people that in fact, all the things Trump was saying about it was a lie. And I didn't use the exactly those words. But he says, you know, he doesn't believe that any of that happen. Just as earlier in the day, I saw Chris Christie saying the same thing on the ABC program, that a lot of Republicans including, of course, the chief election officers in Arizona and Georgia, both Republican states say that the election was up was it was fair and square. And that if they have congressional hearings, bipartisan hearings, they can hear it out. And they can demonstrate, in fact that it was a fair election. Yeah, they'll be giving some more, more airtime to the election troopers. But there's a sizable chunk of the doubters within the Republican party that can be convinced if there is a fair bipartisan inquiry that they can watch in?


Christine Barry  11:00

Well, I don't think there's any issue with that kind of thing. But I do think that that would have to be proper hearings. As far as I know, we've never seen proper hearings. We've just seen the Giuliana Giuliani clown show?


Walt Sorg  11:14

Well, I would go back to the hearings that were held under former Congressman Mike Rogers when he chaired the Homeland Security Committee in the house on Ben Ghazi he conducted a fair inquiry and his ultimate report was that there was nothing improper, done by Hillary Clinton or the administration leading up to the tragedy had Ben Ghazi that's the sort of thing that has to happen. There's still people that wind bad guys who've been guys who have been guys, but that's always going to be there. You know, the crazies on the extremes are always going to be the crazies on the extremes. But people can be brought around just as you had the Senate Intelligence Committee under the leadership of Republican Richard Byrd do a deep dive into what happened in the 2016 election. And they concluded in fact that the Russians did try to rig that election and that the Trump campaign did in fact, cooperate with the Russians in that effort. That's the sort of thing that's going to be needed. If we're ever going to get the unity that the President talks about, we're never going to unify on all issues, I would want us to unify on all issues, that'd be boring. Among other things, we need that healthy dialogue. But we've got to unify at least on what the facts are.


Christine Barry  12:18

That's true. And you know, going back I feel like I say this every week, but we need to get back to being loyal opposition to each other. Ultimately, nobody wants anybody to be breaking into the Capitol and and doing all this damage. And, you know, shouting, hang Mike Pence and looking for lawmakers and carrying those handcuffs, those zip tie handcuffs. You know, that's not a loyal opposition. Those people should have never been emboldened enough to do that. That's what we need to change, that kind of hatred that fueled that. That's disgusting it but it's behind us. I don't think it'll happen again. But there is a long healing process ahead of us. And maybe those hearings would have would help with that. You know, as long as they were real hearings, okay. And the only thing that really got on my nerves was that we never had any proper hearing,


Walt Sorg  13:08

like Devin Nunez. And the hardcore crazies were in charge of a lot of the process. But if you get some some, for starters, we control all the committee's now democrats control the committee's on both sides. So the hearings will be a lot more rational than they were under some of the the far extreme right people, I have one more theory on something that should happen to for unity before we move on to COVID. And that relates to the people who were a part of the demonstrations and the the insurrection of the US Capitol. There's talk now that the Justice Department is weighing the option of not even putting some of them on trial. I think what needs to happen is you put people on trial who were inside, and you convict them. And then you take those who were only inside because they were able to get inside. And we're not really part of the insurrection. But more we're almost like hyper activated tourists. And the President commutes their sentences just as Jimmy Carter did for the draft Dodgers. After the Vietnam War, he took all those people who dodged the draft in violation of the law, and many of whom were convicted for doing so and fled to Canada as a result. And he he gave them commutation. And I think that would go a long way towards unifying the country. Now, the really bad actors, they need to go to prison. But in terms of quite a few of the people, at least you're inside and we're really kind of like tourists doing a bad thing. And it were guilty of a crime but a fairly minor crime when you compare it to the people that were trying to overthrow the government. I think that would be a good move.


Christine Barry  14:38

I hadn't thought of that before. You just mentioned that now. But I could see that being something that helps people move forward.


Walt Sorg  14:44

They got caught up in the moment. I don't think there was criminal intent on the part of at least some of the people who were in the capital. Certainly there was on the part of the the leaders that brought them in there. Well, let's move on to COVID.


Christine Barry  14:56

All right, well, for the first time since the pandemic began nearly a year ago. We actually have a federal plan to end it. The Biden administration released a 198 page plan for comprehensive coordinated testing, contact tracing and getting people vaccinated. And really, while the plan has seven main points which covered what we mentioned above the testing, the tracing PPE mask mandates vaccine distribution. It also offers a framework for guidance for local decision making, rebuilding the federal pandemic defenses so that we can mitigate this in the future we can evaluate the risk in other nations before it gets to our borders, that kind of thing. And then add some extra precautions for those most at risk in terms of identifying who they are and making sure that we get them the resources they need. Certainly comprehensive


Walt Sorg  15:52

I want to add a shout out to the folks at the local level to our Ingham County Health Department, which like a lot of other health departments across Michigan, their big problem is is supply of vaccine, they simply don't have enough the demand is huge. And I got my needle in the arm last Tuesday it didn't hurt a bit I didn't have any side effects. Afterwards, my shoulder wasn't even sore and never felt so relieved. It's one of the advantages of being really old. Meanwhile, here in Michigan restaurants and bars are going to be again able to offer indoor dining and indoor drinking state health director, Dr. Janae khaldoun.


Joneigh Khaldun  16:29

starting February 1, indoor dining at restaurants will be allowed as well as concessions and entertainment venues and additional personal services. Large stadiums will also have greater capacity limits. These are incremental steps we can take because of the successes we have seen with our order.


Walt Sorg  16:48

The decision to ease up on restrictions follows the numbers Michigan showing a lot of progress in reducing the incidence of hospitalizations, infections and deaths. Although the numbers are still pretty bad.


Joneigh Khaldun  17:02

Our case rate is now at 225 cases per million. It has been declining for the past 11 days. Our test positivity rate is now at 6.8% and has also been declining for the past 12 days. Our hospitalizations also continue to decline. Now, just under 10% of inpatient beds in the state are being used for patients with COVID-19. And that has been declining for seven weeks. So overall, I am pleased with our progress. We should be proud as Michiganders, we largely avoided the post holiday surge. And it's because many people did the right thing avoiding gatherings wearing masks and washing hands.


Walt Sorg  17:47

I think this is a success story for the state of Michigan no doubt about it. This is really great news. And it's a result because the governor was tough. She was tough in a lot of states but got the pressure she was under from the restaurant industry especially and I understand their pain. Certainly they estimate 3000 restaurants have already shut down and a lot of them won't reopen the letter that went out from restaurant owners to the governor. I know a lot of them. Not a lot of them. But I know the people that were the leaders of the movement to send that letter. They voted for governor Whitmer. They still support governor Whitmer. And they've been supportive of what she's doing. But they say now, hey, we got to get back in business And we can do it responsibly. My question is, can their customers be responsible?


Christine Barry  18:28

Well, if they're being responsible, they're going to enforce that that order is pretty comprehensive. There's taking names of customers, there's distancing, there's the limited capacity. I mean, if they enforce those rules, and the customers can't break them, at least not within, you know, the restaurants as


Walt Sorg  18:48

long as the restaurants take it seriously. And I think most of them will, like I said, I know several of the restaurant tours. In fact, several of the restaurant tours that I know who sent in that letter, they have all hosted the governor in the past because they're all Lansing area restaurants. And she's probably eaten at all of them and is probably knows all of these people personally. So it's weighing on the governor personally as well. I did take a look at the the numbers to see where we are nationally in terms of infections over the last seven days. And we're doing pretty good. We ranked fifth from the bottom of the list in terms of numbers. A fifth from the bottom is good. In this case. We're 23 per 100,000. Minnesota is fourth in the Midwest to 22 per thunder. We baseboard tie their fourth, we're fifth. Then you've got Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio. And the thing those states all have in common. The restaurants and bars are wide open. I know in Indiana, it is just like the Wild West down there. People are very reticent to wear masks. They are crowding into their bars in their restaurants, that the beauty of what the President is doing is we've got a national approach to this now, and we have a national leader who is modeling the proper behavior.


Christine Barry  19:56

Yeah, this is something now that if we have squabbles between ourselves, you know, at least there is an umbrella of a federal leadership and federal program over it by December last year was Indiana had that sign up, you know, Michiganders come to Indiana, do business with us. That is a bad culture, in a pandemic, and there's nothing Michigan can do about it. And there they are. 25th from the bottom, so good for them.


Walt Sorg  20:23

One other note on this Khaldun's boss, the director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, very abruptly quit his job. Robert Gordon put out a tweet saying I'm leaving see a goodbye. The governor quickly put out a note appointing Elizabeth Hertel as the new director of the Department. She had been a deputy director, and is also the wife of my state senator Curtis Hertel Jr. and very popular within the legislature. A lot of Republicans immediately spoke up in support of having her in charge. What do you make of it was Gordon forced out? You think he's got another opportunity? Just wanted to leave? He's tired of the heat. Just Why is he living?


Christine Barry  21:02

Well, he worked with the Biden team before maybe he's looking to do something with them. Maybe he disagreed with the governor in some way. And they just decided to part ways. You know, she, maybe he didn't want to open up soon enough. Or maybe, you know, Elizabeth Hertel just speaks Republican. You know, maybe she's the Ainslie Haynes?


Walt Sorg  21:24

Great, great West Wing reference. Well done, well done. Meanwhile, in DC, it's a brand new world, a president who can actually manage the executive branch, a very small Democratic majority in the House and an evenly divided senate controlled by Democrats. Thanks to the Vice President's tie breaking vote. Democrats will again chair committees. I talked late last week with the Incoming Chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, Michigan senior senator Debbie Stabenow, about the new federal alignment and what it means for Michigan. Senator Stabenow, it's great to have you on the polycast. Let's begin with your new or resumed life in the semi majority, having control of the Senate now what how big a difference does that make to you, especially with your committee assignments?


Debbie Stabenow  22:13

Walt, it's great to be with you. It's great to see you. And it actually makes a big difference because it means I chair the committee. And so when you're in the majority, we have the Gamble's and set the agenda for the committee's and also determine what will come up on the floor for a vote. And particularly coming off of this last couple of years where the Majority Leader Mitch McConnell actually held up 400 and some bills that came from the House of Representatives. I think, like 90%, were bipartisan, and refuse to take them up on the floor of the Senate. So it's a we that's what we dubbed it the legislative graveyard in the last couple of years. But we have an opportunity to actually govern and make things better for people in their lives and, and move forward. For me on the Agriculture Committee. It means not only supporting our rural communities and dealing with things like the lack of high speed internet, we're children in small towns, like where I grew up, can't zoom at home for school, because there's no high speed internet. And so all these issues, we need to deal with our small hospitals, rural hospitals, and so on. But in addition to that, we have first a five year reauthorization of a child nutrition bill, which is all of our feeding programs in school, and WIC programs for pregnant moms and so on. And then the other thing that is really top priority for me is tackling the climate crisis with a voluntary producer led effort to create a carbon market for our farmers, people are very interested in this, we can actually lead the way in tackling the climate crisis with the efforts that farmers can do just doing it in a more robust way, in terms of carbon sequestration.


Walt Sorg  24:06

Also impacting this are the relationships that you have with the administration, certainly with Joe Biden. You worked with him for many years, both when he was in the Senate and then as Vice President, as opposed I'm assuming you didn't have the warmest relationship with his predecessor. How much will that change things? I would assume that you could pick up the phone and get him?


Debbie Stabenow  24:23

Yeah, absolutely. You know, he and the whole team around him are people that I've worked with for years. And in fact, Joe Biden was one of the very first people that came to me in 2001, when I was a new United States Senator, to offer his help and support for me so I worked with him in the Senate on so many issues from manufacturing to the violence against women's act to a whole range of things and, and then as Vice President of course, I mean, we all know the role he played in helping us be able to protect a million automake manufacturing jobs and all the manufacturing jobs that are spin offs from that. And we worked on so many things we would cover, react and so on. So he's a great friend. And I know he and Jill well, and also Kamala Harris, who was one of my not only colleagues, but partners in the Senate and a number of different issues, particularly around health care, women's health care disparities, racial disparities around health care. And her Chief of Staff actually was a young woman who came from my office to be her Chief of Staff, somebody from Michigan Rohani, who is now with her in the Vice President's office. So we have a lot of close connections. And I'm so excited about both of them.


Walt Sorg  25:48

Well, one other big connection you've got, of course, too, in your work on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee is the new Secretary of Energy. You and Jennifer Granholm obviously, worked very, very closely while she was both Attorney General and Governor.


Debbie Stabenow  26:01

Yes, I'm so excited about that. And Jennifer and I have talked multiple times. And we'll continue to do that to have somebody that understands clean energy manufacturing. I mean, when we talk about the climate crisis, which I've been focused on for years, I start with the fact that this is about creating jobs, you know, when we're talking about either electric vehicles, or if we're talking about a wind turbine, there 8000 parts and a big wind turbine, and we can make every single one of those in Michigan. So whenever we talk about manufacturing, new kinds of things, you know, our suppliers are the ones leading the way. And so she knows that she gets that I'm excited that she's going to be in that position. And we've talked about a lot of different ways that we're going to be able to move forward, create jobs, and tackle new clean energy efforts, they're going to directly affect the climate crisis.


Walt Sorg  26:54

And those turbines are also potential revenue source for agriculture.


Debbie Stabenow  26:58

Absolutely, I mean, it there is such a connection for that. And a lot of our growers, you know, and talking to our cherry growers up north and Grand Traverse, and Leelanaw, and so on, they've got a lot of extra land and have been looking at both solar panels, and, you know, wind turbines and other possibilities of being able to integrate their spaces to be able to both generate their own electricity, but also be able to add to our clean energy efforts.


Walt Sorg  27:32

Another major alliance with another one of your part time constituents, at least, is with the Department of Transportation and Pete buttigieg, who's a part time resident in the Traverse City area, which is where his husband is from Michigan's got huge infrastructure, and he says the whole nation, what do you see, given that we may actually have an infrastructure week now is going to be the first trust will it be in fact, Rosa is going to be a comprehensive plan attacking all forms of transportation,


Debbie Stabenow  27:59

it's going to be comprehensive. Pete and I have talked about this. And I think they're actually spending more time in Michigan now up in Traverse City than they are anywhere else. So we're going to claim him as a as a Michigan resident, but we need something comprehensive, it's roads, bridges, water, sewer systems, high speed internet, everywhere, that's part of infrastructure, and critically important for our children in school and small businesses and farmers and so on. It's it is sort of the broadest possible way, including charging infrastructure for electric vehicles. One of the things I think that it's so important to do is, make sure people understand that having an electric vehicle can be easy, it's easy, it's going to save your money. These are great vehicles, so many of them being made in Michigan and more going to be made in Michigan over the next four or five years. But it's not something we have to worry about, am I going to have energy and so having those public charging stations making sure you can charge, you know, in 30 minutes, 45 minutes, so that you don't just have to have a Tesla to be able to get a short charging time that you know, we have that broad technology available. And and also that people understand they can do that at home. I mean, we already have DTE and consumers that are you know, focused on supporting people to be able to, to afford and be able to do this. But there's still a resistance, because I think people have not understood how easy it is. So whether you can plug in your vehicle while you're at work, which we should all be able to do, or whether it's being able to do it easily at home. That infrastructure is also very important. And Pete and I have talked about that.


Walt Sorg  29:48

Before we started recording we were talking a little bit about the early days of your career in public service. You were a county commissioner here in Lansing and that was at the time of the the post Watergate reforms. We had a president who did some horrible things abused the law. Do you see another wave of reform laws coming through the Congress as a result of what we've learned over the last four years what we've seen?


Debbie Stabenow  30:11

Well, I sure hope so I have a long list. And there have been bipartisan bills put forward in the past, I hope that folks will be sincere about moving forward simple things like you run for president united states, that you have to release your taxes for a number of years, you know, we ought to be saying, No, you can't run your own business at the same time, as you are president and gain contracts, or special favors as a result of that. You know, that's always been something that has been under the ethics rules, but never actually been a law per se. Even though we have the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution, we need to spell that out. And make it clear that you that when you step into that position, or any position, and as an elected official, and certainly a federal elected official, that you have to put the interests of the people of your state and the country first, and that you can't be making money or creating other kinds of special just deals, just because you have information, or the capacity to be able to draft contracts, and so on. And so there's a lot of things. And that's only one area of many things that we need to do, by the way, in addition to voting rights, passing the john lewis Voting Rights Act to restore what had been taken away a number of years ago by the Supreme Court. And we have a whole range of things in terms of strengthening our democracy, and putting integrity back in particularly the White House in terms of because we have certain things that we have to follow the same members of Congress actually lose their jobs go to jail because of what was used insider trading. And yet the president of the united states can do that. I think he did it numerous times. And so yeah, so I think we need to make that clear,


Walt Sorg  32:13

is egregious as behavior was for the entire four years, the lame duck period was especially egregious. The pardons that he's issued are just many of them quite outrageous. For four years, he totally ignored congressional subpoenas. There's a lot of laws, things that he's supposed to do, but he ignored them because there's really no enforcement. Will those get beefed up? So future presidents, when you issue a subpoena, somebody's got to show up to rein in the power to basically self enrich by giving yourself contracts to go play golf at your golf courses and things like that.


Debbie Stabenow  32:46

Absolutely. In fact, from my standpoint, absolutely. Well, this is one of the areas that frankly, in the past, it was done by just a sense of ethics, and right and wrong. That has certainly been missing for the last four years. But also, there was the peer pressure that came in the past from those who expected you to follow ethics rules and deal with right and wrong. And unfortunately, in the Senate, we had a whole range of Republican enablers for four years. That was both disappointing and maddening at the same time. So yes, we absolutely need to put those things in place in terms of accountability for this president and a whole range of things.


Walt Sorg  33:35

One last thing on procedure in the Senate, but something that's really important, given that it's a 50 plus the Vice President, if 50 Senate, and that's the filibuster, is that going to remain in its current form or in any form?



Well, first of all, I mean, the now minority leader in the Senate, Mitch McConnell, you know, made changes on judges and so on to this. We want to move forward in a bipartisan way, in a way that's going to get things done for people and and hopefully be able to do this in a way that actually creates results for people. We don't have an intention of changing the filibuster rules as a waste of legislation. But I will also say this, that if mitch mcconnell takes the position that basically he's going to do what he did to President Obama and just try to stop everything so that he's not effective as a president, then we will have to see what that means. mean, right now in the middle of a pandemic. It is taken over 400,000 lives and more people are dying every day. We have to we have to get vaccines to people we have to address the health care system. We have to help people survive this, get children back to school, get businesses open. And then we've got to have a robust way to create jobs and move forward. I worked across the aisle all the time. And they have many, many bipartisan results for doing that. But we have to know that people want to do that. And if they don't, then we'll have to see what the tools are, at this point in time, because doing nothing right now in our country, is not an option. And the new president has already tried to rebuild some of the damage because it was through executive orders. He'll do as much as he can, through executive orders to stop the bad things that the former president was trying to do. But we really do have to build back better, as well as heal the country. But it takes partners, you have to have people of goodwill. And I'm hopeful that will happen. I think this is a moment for our better angels. Everybody needs a wingman. And hopefully we can do this in a way that, you know, is minimises the partisan rancor and maximizes actually helping people.


Walt Sorg  36:11

You and Gary Peters are both I would say characterize as center left. Do you see being able to form some Coalition's with the handful of Republicans who are center? Right?



I absolutely believe that we can form a coalition. Certainly I've done that all the time on agriculture, wall policy, and trauma, nutrition and child food policy, although it's I've had to really fight and push on food access. And we have a lot more to do there. But I absolutely believe we can work together we did it after the election in the short term COVID package that we put together. I was involved with that. And what were some of the provisions on that. And I give credit to people on both sides, we have Republican colleagues have stepped up to do that. That's the hopeful part. For me, I'm hopeful that they will feel good about what happened and that we actually got something done for people, and that they want will want to continue to do it. But as I said, it takes both sides to do it. I'm in a caucus that believes in governing. And if they have a chance to work across the aisle, I don't know any member of our caucus that doesn't take it. So that that's what I'm hoping will happen.


Walt Sorg  37:22

Thank you so much for joining us. Stay healthy.


Debbie Stabenow  37:25

Thank you. Good to see you.


Walt Sorg  37:26

Good to see you.


Christine Barry  37:31

Well, a couple of Michigan republicans are getting continued heat for their involvement in the totally bogus, cancel the vote movement. First of all, let's start with Mike shirkey. Yeah. So senate majority leader has said that he has met with militia leaders, he's advised them on messaging and different things, and that they have gotten a bad rap. And he said initially that the state police are involved in identifying the militia leaders. And I don't know what he said the state police involvement was state police came back and said there wasn't such involvement. And now you've got this really weird foundation for the story. But the really disturbing thing is that he's meeting with militias and helping them with messaging. That's not something that is his job. You have to understand when he when you say that, that when you're talking about the Michigan militias, whether it's the the regular Michigan militia or the offshoots, these other groups, they get a bad rap because they earn it. There are groups all over the state of Michigan, probably all over the country, small groups that gets together and they say, Okay, this is our neighborhood, and we're going to defend it in this way. And they make plans for checking on the widow Jones when there's an evacuation or something. But those aren't malitias. These militias that we have that are organized and have training facilities or training grounds or whatever, and they wear uniforms, and they have ranks. These people are frightening, because they say that they are defensive. They respond to emergencies, but the only emergency they respond to is the perceived encroachment by the government on the rights of Americans. And here's my evidence for that. They're not out there assisting in natural disasters. They're not out there protecting our legislators. For example, it wasn't the Michigan militia who escorted Sarah Anthony to work. They're not out there helping anybody in all of this time of unrest. They're just not out there protecting anybody. They're not being that defensive group of people, the protecting group of people that they're supposed to be, but you know, where they did show up. They showed up at Carl monkey's barbershop to defend him. They've gotten a bad rap because they've earned it and that is not Mike shirk his job to help them with messaging so that we all get on board with these malitias and that actually leads me into Ron Weiser's email Last week, here's the other one who we're going to talk about  getting some heat which is Meshawn Maddock. Now Ron wiser ameesha Maddock will be co chairs of the Michigan Republican Party, Ron wiser, sends an email last week and says, Don't pick on Meshawn, the left is just trying to divide us. They're trying to make us victims of their canceled culture. They're mocking us, which actually is true. I do mock them all the time. And they're threatening us and whatnot, which is not true. And then he ends it with we are facing the greatest threats to freedom that our Republic has ever seen. So here Walt I present to you, this two pronged threat of Mike shirkey, helping malitias sound more acceptable, and Ron Weiser, trying to call them to action be on  guard, Red Alert.


Walt Sorg  40:51

Yeah, I would point out one other thing with Mike shirkey. He led the opposition to the complete ban on bringing weapons into the Capitol who brings weapons into the Capitol, for the most part, members of the militia.


Christine Barry  41:03

Yeah, and they and the Wolverine watchmen are an offshoot of the Michigan militia. They started there, as did Timothy McVeigh, if you'll remember, this started in the militia. Now they leave because they're too radical for the Michigan militia. And I will give the militia credit for that they do try to weed out the most radical. But you know, the watchman went to the Capitol and recruited people and tried to carry out this terrible threat on our Gov. And where did they get their training? Where did they get their contacts? You know, where did they get I'm not gonna say their ideas to overthrow the government, but their knowledge and their information about strategy and that kind of thing from the Michigan militia.


Walt Sorg  41:47

Go figure. Let's move on, federal judges signed off on a massive $641.25 million civil Flint Water settlement. The court's approval order will become effective this Wednesday. This preliminary approval formally establishes the process through which Flint residents can indicate their intention to file eligible settlement claims that will be processed and paid by the claims administrator, Judge levy will still need to issue a final ruling on the settlement, depending on whether the settlement is fair, adequate and reasonable after conducting a fairness hearing, which is scheduled for next July. That settlement negotiated by the Attorney General of Michigan with many other parties, one of the subjects I discussed with the Attorney General late last week, Dana Nessel now entering her third years, the people's top lawyer, one of the things we talked about a lot was the last two years, not exactly what you expected, was it general Nessel, it seems like a million years ago, since you took office in some ways, but it has only been two years. over those two years, I know you came into office with some specific ideas of what you wanted to accomplish the things you want to emphasize. And I would assume you've run into like 400 surprises since then, what's been the most surprising thing that you had to take on that you never imagined you'd have to deal with?


Dana Nessel  42:59

Well, really, the the two things that stick out in my mind, are Firstly, COVID-19, which of course, no one saw that coming, and all the work that our office has had to do not just to work around it, and do the work of the state be the law firm that represents the state of Michigan, despite the fact that we couldn't even, you know, do virtually anything in person, whether it was going to court, whether it was having staff meetings, and all the rest of it. But beyond that, of course, representing the state of Michigan and the various agencies, departments and actors, in terms of all the litigation, you know, I like to think we can walk and chew gum at the same time. And we were still able to handle many of the other projects and initiatives, and the business of the Department of Attorney General. But that was an enormous amount of work that we did. And I'm not just talking about defending the governor in her actions or defending the Department of Health and Human Services, in terms of those orders. But I also mean, all the work we had to do on price gouging, all the work that we had to do in regard to battling the many types of consumer fraud that we saw that came out of people's panicking and fears about the COVID epidemic. And I would say second to that all the dozens and dozens of cases that we handled pursuant to the election. And those are cases before the election, during the election and after the election. And many of those cases, I never thought in a million years that we would be involved in, I would come What comes to mind very specifically, of course, is suing the Postmaster General. That's a case that was not on my bingo card in terms of anything that I definitely ever had to be involved in during my tenure as attorney general of this state.


Walt Sorg  44:50

And I suspect you probably never anticipated getting into a Twitter war with the President of the United States.


Dana Nessel  44:56

That is for sure. And I will tell you there were days, I'd wake up on a Sunday morning, thinking that it might be a slow day, and I might have a little downtime to read a book or relax a little bit. And turns out, I spent the day, you know, under the scrutiny of the national media, because the President of the United States said, mean tweeted about me at 2am, the evening before, you know, or that earlier that morning, I mean, and it's just something I thought, you know, as much as we all like to think we have a sense of importance. At the end of the day, I am the state attorney general of a, you know, small, medium to large sized, Midwestern state, but not really the kind of thing that I would see the president united states over and over having to disparage me by my name. I didn't really think I had that sense of importance nationally, but it really kind of tells you the toast, the sort of things that our President spent his time dwelling on, and how his punching down perpetually, instead of really understanding the importance of his office, so we we many of us might never understand why Donald Trump chose to focus on the things that he did. But I will say that the state of Michigan certainly gained a sense of national prominence in the way that he personally attacked me. And Secretary Benson and of course, Governor Whitmer, among others in our state.


Walt Sorg  46:25

Well, beyond the President's attacks, of course, you also had to deal with an unprecedented plot to kill the governor kidnapped the governor, again, I would assume it's gonna be surprised at the sort of thing you anticipate coming in. But did did you really kind of see that coming as you came in the growth of the white supremacist threat as domestic terror?


Dana Nessel  46:45

I think that when we got into 2020, as COVID hit, and you sort of saw emerging of anti government sentiment, you had many groups that have been in our state for years, but more beneath the surface that, you know, incredibly anti government sentiment, but as you had a situation where the executive, you know, branch, you know, had had to take more and more aggressive measures to fight back against this very, very deadly epidemic. You know, you saw those folks coming out of the woodwork. But at the same time, you know, of course, you saw what was coming down from President Trump and from many, you know, parts of the republican party as a whole that echoed not just those anti government sentiments, but the the racist sentiments, the xenophobic sentiments, the homophobic sentiments, all of those sort of came together in a way that I think it took all of these groups that were beneath the surface. And then they rose above the surface, and many times joined together


Walt Sorg  47:56

under the radar very often as the the day to day work of the Attorney General's Office and the attorneys that work for you, especially in areas like consumer protection, where you're dealing with a lot of things that really don't get a whole lot of publicity, just because of all the high profile things you're involved in. My personal favorite is the attack on robocalls. How much progress Are you making on that?


Dana Nessel  48:15

Well, I think we're making some tremendous progress. And we've had a number of cases that we have filed and been successful in. You know, I know, like any problem of this magnitude, we have literally over a billion calls that come in to Michigan residents just on an annual basis, it's gonna take some time. But of course, you know, our work with the Better Business Bureau. And with the FTC and the FCC, and all of the agencies participating nationally on this, I really think that we are going to make some substantial progress as time goes on. And we already have, you know, even some of the recommendations that we give people, such as downloading certain apps on their cell phone that allows robo calls to go directly into your voicemail so that you're not perpetually bothered by it all day long. Sometimes, there are simple things that come around. And we work in coordination with these companies to help advise people how they can have a life that is free of constant irritation and annoyance all day, every day. And so sometimes it's the little things that can really actually make a difference in people's lives. But I think we're making definite progress. And we're learning better how to trace these illegal robocalls that we can go after the bad actors. And that's the best form of deterrence.


Walt Sorg  49:35

Before we get into the the Flint situation. We should establish upfront that you walled yourself off completely from the criminal investigations that have resulted in several indictments, you can't talk about that because officially You don't know anything about it, which is pretty common in any law firm to draw yourself off when you've got competing interests there. But on the civil side, the settlement that the state came up with at the end, finally, agree With the people in Flint, is that adequate for the damage that was caused by the contamination of the water?


Dana Nessel  50:07

Yeah, let me let me say a few things about that first. First of all, you know, we're at a point now, it's the biggest settlement in the history of the state of Michigan, and it is likely to grow, because that settlement actually does not include the EPA, who I understand under the Biden administration is eager to get that settle. And it doesn't involve the firms that were consulted in regard to the purity of the water, the engineering firms. So that is a number that is likely to grow. And it really doesn't include any of the money that the state's already incurred in regard to many of the actions that were taken previously. So with those previous actions, we're really looking at something that is a little higher, maybe even as high as a billion dollars. But what do I need people to understand is that this settlement was arrived at with dozens and dozens of some of the best plaintiffs attorneys representing the residents of the city of Flint, not just from the state of Michigan, from all over the nation, excellent attorneys representing them. We had a special Master, we had a judge that was very devoted to bringing justice to the plaintiffs in this matter. So it wasn't as though I just said, here's a number. And you know, hope you're happy with it. And if you're not, that's unfortunate for you. I mean, this was negotiated over the course of years, with their attorneys. And they we it was, you know, a jointly decided upon figure that we came to, and it's very wide ranging, and it goes to identify those who were most hurt and who are most in need of those funds, which is primarily the youngest of the plaintiffs, the very young babies, toddlers, those that were in utero while this water was being consumed, because they were the ones who were most injured. And the other thing I'd like to say about it is this, I think it's important for people to understand the governor and I don't have the ability just to settle this case, in whatever manner we want. It has to be approved by the legislature. They're the ones who appropriate the money for any settlement like this. And so we had to get the agreement of then speaker Chatfield, and Majority Leader Shirkey to that this did pass through the House and Senate even had we wanted to go higher than this, had we been able to come up with a greater settlement in terms of the money, there will be no guarantee that it would have passed in the House and Senate and that Shirkey and Chatfield would have agreed to it. So it wasn't just the governor and I we had to work with our republican legislative partners to make sure this happened. And, you know, my great fear was that if it did not work out, given the fact that obviously our state revenue is less than we would otherwise do it because of the COVID because of 2020. And given the fact that we had a change over at least in terms of who the Speaker of the House is that maybe if we waited any longer, we wouldn't be able to get anything through.


Walt Sorg  53:01

Let's move to Enbridge quickly. I hate to keep bouncing around. But you do there's so many things that go on your office to cover a lot of them in this amount of time is kind of difficult. Let's go to Enbridge though that you came into office, you and the governor said you were going to shut that pipeline down. It's still open because of this ping pong match or high powered tennis match that's going on in the courts. What is the status today? What's going to happen in the next couple of months if Enbridge and FX continues operations despite what they've been told to do.


Dana Nessel  53:30

We can file cases, but we can't order the courts to take action. And so of course, my first case that I filed on is to decommission the pipeline was filed actually believe as of June of 2019. It's been pending. So it's been quite some time since I filed that initial case. But of course the governor join me. on her behalf our department filed to terminate the original easement that was granted by the state of Michigan and is more specifically by the Department of Natural Resources to Enbridge. And that happened last fall. And you know, in response, Enbridge tried to remove the court hearing from third court in federal court for the Western District. And so of course, we are now filing a motion to remand and bring it back. We think this is properly under the auspices of state court and we are making arguments under state law. But I will say this, I think Enbridge is going to be out of luck. It's only a matter of time. And I say that for many reasons. One, because I think our state court arguments are excellent. But beyond that, if they're looking to the federal government to say, well, the state doesn't have the say, on where these pipelines could exist even if the federal government can say what constitutes a safe or a non hazardous pipeline. They don't have the right to say where those pipelines can be positioned in the state. That is our argument. Essentially, but even if the argument is you don't get to make that decision state of Michigan, this goes to the Department of Transportation. We have somebody who is likely very shortly to be confirmed as the Secretary of Transportation, Pete Buda judge, who called for line five to be shut down during his presidential campaign. Now, of course, he works with the Biden administration. But obviously, we have a governor who has very close connections to the Biden administration. I doubt very much that President Biden, God, I feel so good to be able to say that, say it again, President Biden, as I'm speaking to you, it's 1:19pm on Inauguration Day, so we've had a new president for just over an hour now. But I've dealt very much the president five will contradict the wishes of our governor. And so whether it happens, you know, in state court or whether it happens in federal court, the argument is going to be that this pipeline is unsafe, and that for a variety of reasons. It needs to be shut down in order to protect the sanctity of the Great Lakes, and frankly, our economic well being here in the state of Michigan.


Walt Sorg  56:10

You've also got one of your predecessors as attorney general as the Secretary of Energy. And have you talked with Jennifer Granholm about this?


Dana Nessel  56:18

I have not talked to her about line five, I would be shocked to learn that her sentiments differ from mine and and the governor. I think that we both have an excellent relationship with her and I look forward to speaking her specifically about this matter.


Walt Sorg  56:36

Attorney General, Nessel Always a pleasure, and congratulations on not having to spend all your time in federal court for a while. suing the administration.


Dana Nessel  56:43

You know, I will tell you well, that we had a meeting yesterday, myself and several other attorneys general from around the nation with Susan Rice. And she listed off for us all of the executive orders that President Biden was designed today. If I could have virtually hugged her, I certainly would have, because I can't wait to go back to doing the work of the people in Michigan by simply being a regular Attorney General that you know, defends consumers, and the environment and people's civil rights, but not in a manner where we are so at odds with our federal government all day, every day. But with that last thing, I will tell you, I'm very proud of the work that our office did. You know, we filed dozens of lawsuits against the Trump administration, we were largely successful about 80% of those cases. Either we won them outright, or are we forestalled the implementation of some horrible policies that would have been incredibly interest to our state residents. I feel like it was two years in office well spent. I will not look back on my time as Michigan Attorney General, and wish that I had spent less time fighting back against an administration that committed terrible trespasses against the people of our state and the people of our nation.


Walt Sorg  58:02

Attorney General Nessel, always a pleasure.


Walt Sorg  58:10

We're gonna political notes. What do we got this week?


Christine Barry  58:13

Well, we could start with Kwame Kilpatrick. Oh, good. Granted, clemency. That's exciting. I read that diamond and silk supported that. Actually, I you know, he's he's got a big base of supporters still in Detroit. And so instead of serving 28 years, he served seven or eight years. I don't think he any of his co conspirator or co defendant, whatever received any consideration. But at Kwame Kilpatrick, free man,


Walt Sorg  58:44

and that drew immediate heat from the US Attorney for Detroit, who was appointed by Donald Trump. Matthew Schneider, the US Attorney for Michigan's eastern district said my position on the disgraced former mayor of Detroit has not changed. Kwame Kilpatrick has earned everyday he served in federal prison for the horrible crimes he committed against the people of Detroit is a notorious and unrepentant criminal. I find that most interesting for Mr. Schneider who is now being mentioned as a potential candidate for governor in a couple of years. Personally, I think he probably will end up running for attorney general if he does run for statewide office. But it's fascinating to me that Donald Trump is the one who gave him the pardon. And the US attorney who convicted him says You shouldn't have done it.


Christine Barry  59:26

I don't really get that. I didn't see any standard there. Like any any sort of process there where you could say, Kwame meets the standard, but codefendants did not like I didn't see any kind of thoughtful evaluation there but doesn't matter. I guess that's what pardons are for. also getting a new gig Detroit representative Cynthia Johnson.  She was briefly yanked off all committees because she had the temerity to speak out against people who had threatened to kill her. How dare she was terrible. former Speaker Chatfield thought she was a little too emphatic and objecting to that The potential of being lynched now with a new speaker of the House did land a spot on the committee. House Appropriations.


Walt Sorg  1:00:08

I know from my time working for the legislature, that is where everybody wants to be because the Appropriations Committee is where the power is pure and simple. So it's good for Cynthia Johnson. She stood her ground, and it is going to pay off for her constituents and for her personally.


Christine Barry  1:00:24

And speaking of political figures who had new gigs, former representatives, Jason Shepard, and Brandt iden, just left office due to term limits. So they had to leave within weeks of leaving office, they're professional lobbyists. And of course, one more, well, two more, in this case, examples of us pushing all the institutional knowledge of the legislature out the door so that it can be privatized and used against our citizenry.


Walt Sorg  1:00:54

Well, that's the whole thing with term limits. It's sort of like a six year internship, on your way to making the big bucks as a lobbyist that happens, exactly what it is. It's Democrats and Republicans in this case, it is just a couple of Republicans that are doing it. And the new speaker of the house, I doesn't like this stuff. And I find this refreshing. He is a very strong advocate of a lot of reforms in the legislative process. He's already talked about the Open Meetings Act and the Freedom of Information Act applying to the legislature and all that. I think there may actually finally be some action at least in the house. I'm leery of the senate getting anything done or the under the current group. However, in two years when we have a new state Senate, which will be elected on non gerrymandered maps, thanks to the constitutional amendment, perhaps we'll get a Senate to that is is interested in some reforms. also showing up with a new gig is Tony dawn, he is the executive director of the right wing Michigan freedom fund. And he was one of three people that was nominated by the republican party to serve on the ultimate partisan hotbed of hacked them, and that is the State Board of canvassers, two Republicans, two Democrats, all of them highly partisan. dot who was one of three candidates suggested by the republican party or nominated by the republican party to the governor, she had to pick one of the three. And even though he has been a hardcore, right wing conservative on a lot of issues, to me, at least he was the least reprehensible, if you will, of the three possibilities that were presented by the Republican Party. The other two people are election birthers. And just far out Trump crazies.


Christine Barry  1:02:39

Laura Cox is the one who sent those names over so the outgoing one has some crazy in her, and the incoming will probably find, Tony be just to their left. Anyway, this was Aaron van Lange, about Aaron van Lange developed I think that's how we pronounce his name. Sorry if I get it wrong Aaron. Yeah. So he he was in the last month of his term, it was time for his term to be renewed or for him to step aside. He was not recommended again. One of the things that he said to the press after Tony was appointed is Time will tell that those who spread misinformation and try to overturn the election were wrong, and they should be held responsible for the chaos and the confusion they have caused. I thought he deserved had the chance to say that he followed the law. How dare he obviously the republicans got mad about it.


Walt Sorg  1:03:34

Online sports betting is now a thing in Michigan is expected to raise a ton of cash for the state and local governments and for the casinos. No doubt you've seen the TV and internet ads offering all sorts of super deals to sign up with their particular bookmaking operations. Attorney General Nessel is urging everyone read the fine print because not all those deals are the same. Some of them are simply giving you a betting credit others so you have to make a deposit and just read the fine print. They're not operating illegally by any means they're not trying to con you. What they're trying to do is get you hooked on their site so that you spend a lot of money betting with them because the margins are built in for these people. They love bookmaking because of the house always wins.


Christine Barry  1:04:15

And Jennifer Granholm's new job as Secretary of Energy is apparently going to cost her a lot of money thanks to the return of ethics to the executive branch, Oh, dear. She's going to be giving up millions and stock options that she's hold that she holds in energy companies if she's confirmed, which is proper, but people have complained about her having these stock options and saying she's going to be like a Louis D joy, who owned a trucking company, at the same time that he ran the post office and that's not all, like it's appropriate for her to give up those stock options because now there's a clear conflict. It's appropriate for her to leave the board of that electric bus company because there's a clear conflict. There's nothing sinister about it. She's been involved in energy. Sustainable Energy for decades. So, yeah, it was my I did not know they had millions. I didn't


Walt Sorg  1:05:07

either that came as a real surprise. But they've had really well she left office for her and her husband are both on the Fed or were both on the faculty at University of California Berkeley. So I know they get paid pretty well there. But these boards plus she was getting $200,000 a year from CNN to be a political commentator. She's giving that up as well. So clearly, she's making a financial sacrifice to serve. And, you know, that's the kind of woman she is I'm glad she's doing it. And it's a real contrast to, shall we say, the former president of the United States who refuse to give up any of his businesses, although from what I've been reading recently, his businesses are going into the tank, in large part because so many people dislike the brand, two elections to watch in 2022. As predicted, Peter Meyer, the new congressman in the Grand Rapids area is going to get a primary challenge. Somebody has already announced that they're going to take him on because he voted in favor of impeachment. Go figure. I don't think it's going to hurt him in the least. But I've been wrong before. Peter Meyer was the first to admit that his first vote may have marked the end of his political career. And he really didn't care.


Christine Barry  1:06:14

No, he was he was good about it. He came right out and said if you're paying attention to that you can't make good decisions for your constituents. Now, the guy who's running against him is Tom Norton, he ran before and in his last campaign he really showed who he was he put out a video that said red flag laws are dangerous. I think he meant a dangerous step. But this is a quote red flag laws are dangerous step for Americans for all walks of life, but particularly for veterans, blacks and trannies. I'm sorry, that funny to me, even though it's terrible. He's also said many other things about transgendered people or, like, well, you and I would call them just people. And then he he said, when he gets to Washington, he will focus on cutting the pork, not the sausage. I was gonna leave that there. And then said that Rashida Tlaib should deport herself. He's just, you know, he's not. I don't think he's right for that area. It just don't. He says, lots of you know, really disparaging things about Justin Amash. And I don't think that area will elect him over Peter Meyer.


Walt Sorg  1:07:19

I don't do their one that'll be a lot of fun to watch. Just pick if you like the crazy Melissa Carone. You remember her she was Rudy Giuliani star witness when they had that infamous House Oversight Committee hearing on the election. She's the one who ended up being parodied on Saturday Night Live, while she is running for the State House of Representatives in Oakland County in the 46th district on a platform of election integrity, after claiming without evidence that she witnessed rampant fraud at TCF center in Detroit in November. My ultimate goal she told deadline Detroit is to get our ballots hand counted and clean out Lansing just like draining the swamp in DC because that's what we need. Well, first of all, our ballots are hand counted in the audits afterwards. And all the hand counts have shown that the machine counts were absolutely accurate. And draining the swamp and DC. Who is she kidding? She thinks the last four years was draining the swamp. We are in for a very swampy future. We're all going to be like the dinosaurs rotting in the swamp. Because that's what we've got. Now the 46 district is a rock solid republican district. It was 62% in the last election, currently represented by john Riley, who won by 14,000 votes over Jody Lancia in the most recent election. So she gets through the primary and you never know she could. We could end up having a certifiable crazy person in the State House of Representatives wouldn't be the first time won't be the last time it will certainly be entertaining.


Christine Barry  1:08:46

Yeah, but do you think they'll elect someone who had to, you know, go to the press and say no, I swear I was sober in that hearing.


Walt Sorg  1:08:55

I actually get a lot of coverage. She will get a lot of


Christine Barry  1:08:57

Is it going to be the same district.


Walt Sorg  1:08:59

No. district but it'll be the same general area in Oakland County, which was a pretty republican area.


Christine Barry  1:09:04

She might not even live in it.


Walt Sorg  1:09:07

She doesn't right now.


Christine Barry  1:09:08

Well, I really think we've taken this anyone can run for office thing too far.


Walt Sorg  1:09:13

Well, I ran once, what the hell?


Christine Barry  1:09:17

Stop it. Alright, that's it. For this week's podcast. We leave with the relief of knowing that Jared Kushner is no longer the most important person in federal government. And his wife's office at the White House is also now occupied by somebody who actually belongs there. If you'd like to learn more about today's topics, or just geek out at some fun tweets, memes, tons of links, including the COVID plan that Joe Biden just put out, head on over to the Show page at


Walt Sorg  1:09:46

We of course welcome your feedback Email us at or you can troll us on our Facebook page or on Twitter. For our closing act this week. Lavonia nurse Lori Marie Key who's performance at the pre inaugural COVID Memorial moved the nation


Walt Sorg  1:10:38

That's it. The Republic has survived four years of assault and the adults are back in charge. Goodbye.


Donald Trump  1:11:06

We love you. We will be back in some form.


Walt Sorg  1:11:12

We'll be back here. The Michigan Policast is a production of Michigan citizens for a better tomorrow.

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