Michigan Policast for Monday, March 29, 2021In this episode:
Congratulations Michigan Advance
— Michigan Advance (@MichiganAdvance) March 26, 2021
- Segment one: COVID-19 – Cases and hospitalizations going up
- Segment two: Voter suppression, assassinations, and burning women at the stake
- Segment three: Kyle Melinn on Trump's influence over the Republican party
- Segment four: Political notes
- Bridge Michigan coronavirus dashboard
- (Crain's) Coronavirus in Michigan: The latest numbers
- Michigan has a new leader in the surge of COVID cases: kids
- COVID infections among vaccinated people are very rare – Axios
- Michigan schools reopened. Then came a spike in COVID outbreaks | Bridge Michigan
- The Return to Normal: Views on the Pandemic – Morning Consult polling data
- Michigan’s plan to get more Republicans to take COVID vaccine | Bridge Michigan
- Whitmer vetoes bill to end coronavirus rules without lawmakers' OK | News | theoaklandpress.com
- GOP-led Legislature spent $628K on COVID-19 lawsuit against Whitmer ⋆ Michigan Advance
Michigan prosecutors could get $1.25M to investigate Whitmer’s nursing home policies under Senate-passed bill https://t.co/IRtjtYsZWG
— MLive (@MLive) March 25, 2021
Just a reminder that for the biggest state investigation into clergy abuse in the nation, where our department has already identified 454 perpetrators and 811 victims, the AG’s office received exactly $0 in 2020. We begged for extra funding but received nothing. https://t.co/ACk9EWILKS
— Dana Nessel (@dananessel) March 25, 2021
- Georgia G.O.P. Passes Major Law to Limit Voting – The New York Times
- Georgia governor signs into law sweeping voting bill that curtails the use of drop boxes and imposes new ID requirements for mail voting – The Washington Post
- Daily Kos – Georgia Voter Suppression and more
- G.O.P. and Allies Draft ‘Best Practices’ for Restricting Voting – The New York Times
- Michigan GOP unveils election ‘reforms.’ Most would make voting harder. | Bridge Michigan
- Shirkey, Senate GOP Advance Voter Suppression Bills While Withholding Billions in COVID-19 Relief for Michigan's Working Families – Michigan Democratic Party
- Republicans Aim to Seize More Power Over How Elections Are Run – The New York Times
- Michigan GOP senators file 39 election reform bills: What's in them
- After Trump tried to intervene in the 2020 vote, state Republicans are moving to take more control of elections – The Washington Post
- Michigan GOP chair plans to go around Whitmer for voting law changes
- SOS – Benson, nonpartisan groups denounce bills to roll back voting rights
- U-M regents call on Ron Weiser to resign after ‘witches,' assassination comments
- Statement from Tracy Wimmer, spokesperson for the Michigan Department of State, on MIGOP Co-Chair Ron Weiser's disturbing remarks
- Michigan GOP chair Weiser rebuffs attacks on assassination, ‘three witches' quips
- Watch: Ron Weiser calls Mich. leaders ‘three witches;' quips about assassination of colleagues
- Michigan Republicans seek Whitmer challenger among new, familiar faces
- UM female deans lambaste Michigan GOP Chair Ron Weiser for ‘sexist name calling'
Imagine making it a crime to offer water to people waiting in line to vote.
— Justin Amash (@justinamash) March 26, 2021
This is not an apology. This is Ron Weiser trying to salvage his relationship with @UMich. If Ron’s comments inspired assasination attempts against the 5 officials he threatened, Ron would be fine with it as long as the university named another hall after him. https://t.co/rXoVyHzdMi
— Dana Nessel (@dananessel) March 28, 2021
— Ken Coleman (@HistoryLivesDet) March 26, 2021
Whether it’s in Michigan or Georgia, we have seen a coordinated effort by Republicans trying to dismantle our system of democracy.
— Garlin Gilchrist II (@LtGovGilchrist) March 28, 2021
— David Jesse (@reporterdavidj) March 28, 2021
As a gay, Jewish woman, I have long since learned to respond to hateful rhetoric with humor. But as a prosecutor, I know these remarks are certain to inspire further death threats which will eventually be acted upon. Ron Weiser will surely react with shock & deny any culpability. https://t.co/BGTqf8f41H
— Dana Nessel (@dananessel) March 26, 2021
'The @MIGOP is going to pay their county parties to gather signatures for #votersuppression. Let's take @Rep_CAJohnson's advice and hit these local Republicans in their pocketbooks.' ~@christinebarry #ProtectTheVoteClick To Tweet
- Kyle Melinn on LinkedIn
- Why the GOP is still kissing Trump’s ring | City Pulse
- MIRS News
- MIRS Monday Podcast
- UPDATED x4: Michigan-based political consultant TJ Bucholz revealed as a sexual harasser by multiple women
- Former employees, LGBTQ activist accuse political consultant of sexual harassment
- Ann Arbor Councilwoman outed as enabler at Vanguard Public Affairs
- CMU suspends 2 employees over links to Lansing political consultant T.J. Bucholz
- Many men are sexually harassed in the workplace – so why aren’t they speaking out?
- Sexual Harassment in the Workplace Statistics — What You Need to Know
- Men account for nearly 1 in 5 complaints of workplace sexual harassment with the EEOC
- ‘They friends of yours?’: Trump asks black reporter to set up meeting with Black Caucus
- 2021 Progressive Woman's Caucus – Equal Work Equal Pay
Michigan-based political consultant TJ Bucholz revealed as a sexual harasser by multiple women https://t.co/6AiS1WX2Vb
— Chris Savage (@Eclectablog) March 24, 2021
Due to today's revelations, I have decided to leave Vanguard Public Affairs and strike out on my own. Tomorrow is my last day. Beginning Friday, March 25, 2021, I can be reached at 734-846-1566, and my email address is email@example.com.
— Jen Eyer Irwin (@jeneyer) March 24, 2021
^^^ She had to know this was coming.
Ex-Vanguard partner & Ann Arbor city council member Jen Eyer has said she was unaware of TJ Bucholz’s inappropriate conduct.
That doesn’t line up with what former workers told me.
— Emily Lawler (@emilyjanelawler) March 27, 2021
🚨 Breaking from @MIRSnews 🚨
CMU has confirmed that two faculty members are under investigation for potentially knowing of sexual harassment claims at Vanguard. pic.twitter.com/6G3Yp9vBIb
— Samantha Shriber (@SamanthaShriber) March 25, 2021
Disaffection…with everything. There's a portion of the MI electorate that believes nothing coming from most media, gov't officials, even family/friends who disagree with them politically. How widespread? Kyle Melinn @melinnky @MIRSnews is next on The Morning Wake Up @1320WILS pic.twitter.com/qiPIOVATHx
— Dave Akerly (@DaveAkerlyOnAir) March 22, 2021
Twelve personal accounts and associated organizations are responsible for 65% of the public anti vaccination content that is circulating. They have already reached over 59 million people, many of whom may have gotten vaccinated, and are otherwise skeptical. pic.twitter.com/WPmFQrUmND
— Dana Nessel (@dananessel) March 28, 2021
Chuck Schumer 00:05
It's one of the most despicable things I have seen in all my years. Shame, shame, shame.
Joe Biden 00:14
When I'm worried about is how unAmerican this whole initiative is. It's sick. It's sick, deciding in some states that you cannot bring water to people standing in line waiting to vote. deciding that you're going to end voting at five o'clock when working people are just getting off work deciding that there will be no absentee ballots under the most rigid circumstances. The Republican voters I know. Find this despicable Republican voters. It is the most pernicious thing. This makes Jim Crow look like Jim Eagle.
Walt Sorg 00:59
Well, I don't know who the hell Jim eagle is. But the battle over voting rights escalates, not just in Washington, but in Lansing where Republicans really don't want you to vote. If they don't think you're likely to vote for them. I'm Walt Sorg.
Anthony Fauci 01:14
She's a really good governor. I know I think she's done some really good things, but I am telling them just hold off for a bit. When you get the overwhelming majority of your population vaccinated, the chances of there being a surge are miniscule. So just hang in there. Don't turn the switch on and off, pull back gradually, not all at once everything all things are off and everything goes. That's not a good idea.
Christine Barry 01:41
Doctor Fauci warns against moving too quickly to end the COVID safety restrictions in Michigan, even as Republicans complain that any restrictions are draconian. And Christine Barry.
Walt Sorg 01:55
Also in the pod Michigan's Republican chairman speaks out for assassinating some Republicans and burn some democratic witches and a sexual harassment scandal envelops a prominent Lansing political consultant and Central Michigan University. Later in the podcast, we'll be joined by Kyle Mellin from the MIRS political newsletter, who's done a deep dive into the transformation of Michigan's GOP into the Trump forever party. We begin Of course, Christine with the COVID pandemic and the numbers continue to remind us that it is a long way from being over Michigan is in the midst of a surge right now. But it's a different kind of a surge. It basically is young people and it started in our schools and it started about the time that the school started to reopen with in person classes. And when athletics resumed in the schools, it's pretty easy to see that the restrictions the governor was putting in place were working. And when those restrictions were loosened, things got worse again.
Christine Barry 02:57
Yeah, the cases among kids ages 10 to 19 have risen about 133% in the last four weeks, fastest growing age group. cases and hospitalizations are up deaths are not But even as the numbers grow, the governor resists reinstating stricter pandemic emergency rules. She notes that while Michigan's percentage increases are large, they're calculated using a relatively small base.
Gretchen Whitmer 03:23
These numbers represent an increase based on Michigan having one of the lowest positivity rates at the beginning of this year because we did a pause to save lives during the heat of the uptick in November. Other states saw their ERs fill up, but we brought our numbers down, we were one of the few states that really were able to accomplish that. So when we go from 3% positivity rate to over 6%, it does look like a doubling. And yet it's still quite a bit lower than other states. That's not an excuse. It's just important for perspective, this virus is still a very real threat. And I think that this is a sharp reminder of that fact.
Christine Barry 04:02
one of the things happening here is that the variants are also playing a role in this. They're kind of surging a little bit because they're more contagious, more transmissible. And when kids went back to school, some of the social distancing was reduced to three feet rather than six. We know that athletics have resumed, I don't think this outcome is entirely unexpected. What do you think?
Walt Sorg 04:23
Well, I think the important thing is the death count is still going down. And the reason for that is really simple. In the beginning of the pandemic, the people who are dying the most were people that were 65 and older. That was like 80% of all the deaths in Michigan and around the nation, people that age are vaccinated in heavy numbers. In Michigan, it's like 65% of seniors now have been vaccinated. One thing that's not emphasized enough in the coverage of this is that if you have been vaccinated, you're not going to get sick in all likelihood, at least to the point where you have to go to the hospital and at least in terms of dying I have seen absolutely no reports of somebody who has been vaccinated having very, very bad side effects. I've seen no reports of people being hospitalized after having the vaccine. And I've seen no reports of people dying after they've had the vaccine. So that has really had an impact. And the quicker we get everybody else vaccinated, including the people that are reticent, the faster this is going to be over. The challenge now is not so much supply anymore, because the supply is ramping up. It is the acceptance of that supply by the people who have been reluctant. We're getting to the point where we're going to have more supply than we had people that are lined up to get their shots. And that's both a good thing and a bad thing, because it means we'll still have a lot of people who are at risk. They just don't think they're at risk for one reason or another.
Christine Barry 05:43
You're absolutely right on the things that that you've said about the vaccines. And yeah, we're definitely well on our way to getting out of this mess, I think.
Walt Sorg 05:54
Yeah, and you see it at the collegiate level as well, with the National Tournament still going on, and they're still having problems with COVID infections. The University of Michigan hockey team had to drop out of the NCAA Tournament because of COVID. You've had one game forfeited in the men's NCAA basketball tournament, the women's tournament is having problems as well. And that's going to continue. That is going to continue until everybody gets vaccinated. But that's still a highly controlled circumstance. The challenge we've got now is so many people are relaxing it you look at Spring Break in Florida, my God, I'm just waiting to probably be another week or two until the numbers start hitting all around the nation from kids who bring home the virus to various parts of the country. And certainly southern Florida is going to be feeling it as well. But just too many people are not taking this seriously. Still, after, you know we're closing in on 600,000 people dying as a result of this nationwide, Michigan now has over 16,000 people that have died from this horrible disease. And we've got to take it seriously. We've got to get to herd immunity. And we're nowhere close to that yet nationally. I think we're now up to about 15% of the nation's been Vax the adult population has been vaccinated. We need 7075 80% vaccinated before, we're going to be out of this mess. So let's just hope there's a documentary by the way we're recording on Sunday. And tonight there's a documentary on CNN, which I'm sure it'll be repeated many times, because that's the way they do it. But it's a look back at the pandemic over the last year and talking with all the people that were responsible or had a role in the national response. And probably the most chilling thing that has come out of that before it has been broadcast is Dr. Burks says that probably 400,000 of the more than half million deaths that we've had from COVID-19 could have been avoided. If the federal government had acted more decisively and more promptly, in response to the pandemic 400,000 people who died, who shouldn't have died. You know, the first 100,000, she says was probably inevitable, just given the fact that it was a new virus and all that we didn't know the vaccine, we didn't know what we were doing. But after that, she says we should have taken stronger action. And we could have saved a whole lot of lives. And that's a terrible thing to contemplate.
Christine Barry 08:10
Yeah, and just real quick, let's be clear, first of all, the first 100,000 being inevitable, that's because of the policies we had in place. If we had that proactive pandemic team out in the world, looking for these things and getting ready for it, we may have been able to avoid that many deaths right at the beginning. And then the second thing, and that's obviously not a sure thing by any means. But the steps that you take that are preventative, are just as important as the steps that you take. After the pandemic gets here is what I'm saying there. And the second thing is that so the doctor who sat there, well, Trump said you should ingest bleach and light?
Walt Sorg 08:53
she was grimacing, but she was holding her tongue and I can sympathize with both her and Dr. Fauci listening because Trump has made it really clear throughout his presidency made it clear that if you weren't with them, 100% you're going to be out. And they figured they probably could do more was like Lyndon Johnson's old line, you're better being inside the tip peeing out, but outside the tent peeing in. And that's figured they figured they were better off being on the inside where they could at least have some impact, if not nearly the impact they wanted to have. And it was fascinating with Fauci, Stephen Colbert asked him in an interview not long ago, what changed, you know you for years, we've been trying to get you on the show, and all of a sudden you’re here. What changed?. And he said, everything changed on January 20. But it's not changing in the legislature. The legislature is still playing games with the governor, sending her bills, the Governor vetoes and they go back and forth and back and forth. Meanwhile, all sorts of federal money is being held up that could be used put to good use, both in our schools, and in terms of contact tracing and getting more vaccine out there more quickly. And the related things that have to be done helping small businesses, all of these things, because the legislature wants to basically be able to micromanage the pandemic and decide exactly when and where emergency orders go into effect. And I can understand the give and take. But it's, it's gotten ridiculous at this point of she, they pass something, she vetoes it, they know that she's going to veto it. And they keep doing it again. And then Meanwhile, the rest of us are kind of stuck in the middle, waiting for them to end their game, so that we can get on with it and actually get the relief that is needed. I especially feel for the small businesses that really, really, really need help. Some of the restaurants are recovering, a lot of them have not a lot of the other small businesses is the same story. It was fun my wife over the weekend and went out to lunch with her sisters in law. And they went into one of what used to be one of the most popular restaurants in the Lansing area over near the university. They sat in there for three hours. And they were the only customers.
Christine Barry 10:54
Oh, wow. Well, yeah, it's a it's a tough situation. And, you know, this is just what, that's just what they do. They try to buy their way into power this time. You know, they're trying to buy the way into power with these COVID relief funds. You know, you give us some of your authority, and we will release this money to the public. And speaking of buying your way into power, the online publication, Michigan Advance has done some digging and found that the legislature has spent more than a half a million dollars on lawsuits against the governor's COVID decisions really against her ability to manage the pandemic. And it was actually it was, well over half a million It was like 628 638, something like that 1000 and split about half and half between the House and the Senate, on these different lawsuits. It's insane, that rather than going to sit down with the governor and talk to her, which they've completely refused to do, I mean, in as recently as March 9 or 10th, they sent that letter saying we will not speak to her until she agrees to give up these things that we're suing for that we sued for. So I mean, that's just how they do their business. So a lot of money wasted there.
Walt Sorg 12:09
Yeah. And then they're going to waste even more now. They have passed legislation, which would appropriate up to $1.25 million for county prosecutors to investigate the governor's nursing home policies. Again, they're just they're trying to look at and something they can pin on her even though Michigan's numbers when it comes to nursing homes, compared to the rest of the nation were relatively good. Our percentage of deaths in nursing homes were a little bit lower than they were nationwide. And the governor was following CDC guidelines all the way. But this is something they want to hang on there because of the the death toll in nursing homes. Oh, no doubt about it has been tragic. But that is a function of the disease and not so much a function of decisions that were made in the executive office. But they want criminal prosecution of the governor, if at all possible, and they are willing to spend a lot of taxpayer money to find it, whether it's there or not. And that's really unfortunate.
Christine Barry 13:02
Well, that's they spent millions of dollars trying to get democratic women put in jail for years. So it's no surprise here that they would go after governor Whitmer for something that there's no evidence of any wrongdoing. In fact, there's evidence that she managed things as recommended, and you know, the outcome was better than in other places, as you just mentioned. So even even Dana Nessel, AG Nessel came out on Twitter and said, when we were prosecuting members of the Catholic Church for sexual assault, we asked for additional funding because there was so much work to do, and we couldn't get a penny for it. We couldn't get a single dollar for that. But here we have over a million dollars to incentivize people to go after governor Whitmer. It's, it's I mean, you can see what this is, you can absolutely see what it is they don't even try to hide it.
Walt Sorg 13:52
It's reminiscent of the way Bill Barr used the Justice Department to go after Donald Trump's enemies, perceived political enemies, and it is just politicizing a process that has no business being politicized. And speaking of politics, we got another little issue to confront this week. That really is bigger than COVID in a way because we know COVID eventually is going to come under control. But when it comes to the right to vote that could go away forever.
Christine Barry 14:15
Yeah, the battle over voting rights fueled by Trump's big lie or the election fraud.
Walt Sorg 14:20
You don't like the thing I think you don't like the line I wrote for you Mango Mussolini.
Christine Barry 14:24
I kept I kept fumbling it mango Mussolini. I kept making a mistake.
Walt Sorg 14:31
Okay, go ahead.
Christine Barry 14:34
The battle over voting rights fueled by Trump's big lie over election fraud is ramping up in DC and in Lansing after Georgia's enactment of a comprehensive set of changes giving the republicans currently in power, the right to choose who gets to vote and choose whose votes will actually be counted. And this has led to growing pressure to save voting rights by ending the senate filibuster under the leadership of Mitch McConnell, the filibuster has gone from a tool to protect the rights of the minority, to a means for support for senators representing as few as 1/5 of the nation to block a bill.
Walt Sorg 15:11
The reason federal action is needed Republican controlled legislators across the nation, including here in Michigan, are poised to mirror Georgia in a coordinated campaign to make it far more difficult for people to vote, with their laws likely targeting Democratic voters.
Joe Biden 15:32
That has nothing to do with nothing to do with decency. They passed a law saying you can't provide the water for people standing in line, waiting to vote. You don't need anything else. This is nothing but punitive, designed to keep people from voting.
Walt Sorg 15:50
Now the thing about giving people water and food while they're in line, the long lines by the way created by Republicans in Georgia who don't have enough polling places so that people can vote efficiently. But that really is the most insignificant part of the voter suppression. What is really ominous is it gives the state legislature and which is controlled by Republicans have the right to basically override decisions made by county election boards, see in Fulton County, which is Atlanta and heavily democratic. If they don't like the way that board is opening up to many precincts or they don't like the way that they have counted the votes, they can invalidate the entire vote. And all the decisions made in that county. The Michigan bills the way they are written. One of the things that's in there, says if your county has too many precincts that are out of balance, your whole county is invalidated. Under the standards that are in the bill Wayne County's votes wouldn't have counted in 2020. Wayne County, the largest county in the state, and Donald Trump would have easily won Michigan as a result. That's what this is all about. It's about power. It's not it is about democracy, but it's about really clamping down on democracy. And it's horrific. What's frightening from my perspective is thanks to Michigan's wonderful constitution. The legislature can go around the governor and go around the people they can spend a lot of money to collect the signatures to get this as a ballot proposal. But before it goes to the ballot, it goes to the legislature and by a simple majority vote in the House and the Senate, they can adopt it. The governor has no veto power over something that's adopted in this manner. And it becomes law giving the right of a small minority that's got a lot of money, the power to control Michigan State law, despite the objections of the vast majority of Michiganders, it is reprehensible. But that's they've said that's what their strategy is.
Christine Barry 17:41
Yeah, they came right out. It said in the in the paper, they've said it on Twitter, and look, if they want to take it to the streets. So if they say we've got a way to get around Whitmer, we'll take it to the streets, we'll do a ballot initiative, which they're very confident about. Because, as you said, they don't have any intention of putting it in front of the 8 million registered voters in Michigan, they want to go out and get a few 100,000 signatures so they can get this in front of the legislator later and get it adopted as law.
If they want to take it to the streets like that and pay their local parties to go get these signatures for voter suppression, then well, let's meet them there. Let's go out and talk to people about this Republican Party. Let's go out and ask people would you like the state of Michigan to make it harder for you to vote? While they're out there collecting signatures let’s ask people would you like this state to change the rules about who gets to count the votes. And while we're out there, let's take pictures of those domestic terrorists and Lansing and DC to show the public who it is who wants them to sign this ballot initiative and remind them of the COVID relief funds just sitting there, let's remind them of the obstruction of Elliot Larson, the new anti-Transgender Law, that Lana Theis just introduced that was written by an actual hate group in another state, let's remind them of that remind them of the policies that led to emergency managers and poisoned water and broken roads and K12 and charter schools – yeah these republicans talk go on and on about how important it is for kids to be in schools, but they were closing K12 and charter schools in the middle of the school year, displace 1000s of poor kids, mostly black. They didn't care about it then. And let's remind the people that this is a party of lies, a party of racism, a party of violence, anti science, anti education, anti community.
These people are so racist, Walt, that they can't even refer to COVID-19 by its proper name, they have to use the words China or Wuhan to refer to what everyone knows is COVID-19. And they do this even though even as even as we see an extreme increase in anti Asian discrimination and violence and Asians being slaughtered where they work.
You know what? Let's follow the lead of Cynthia Johnson. state rep. Cynthia Johnson and ask the public to hit these republicans in their pocketbooks because local Republicans who are going to be paid by Ron Weiser's party to collect these signatures so that he can give them to the illegally gerrymandered Republican majority in the legislature. Those local Republicans, most of them aren't as financially secure as someone like Weiser, find out who they are and hit them their pocketbook, which is a completely nonviolent and legal response to their efforts to take away or restrict your legal access to vote.
They keep talking about going around governor Whitmer, and I'm sick of it. Governor Whitmer is not the only person standing between them and their racist voter suppression efforts. And they need to know that. And this is what we need to do go out and tell people who this Republican Party is they show us over and over and over again, who they are. And we need to believe who they are. And we need to spread that message. And we need to defeat them. If they want to go into the streets, I say we meet them on the streets.
Walt Sorg 20:59
Amen, amen. The most outrageous proposals that are a part of their 39 bill package in Michigan, would introduce new identification requirements for requesting absentee ballots, basically, you'd have to provide voter id when you request the ballot. And what's ironic is it would actually make fraud easier, because one of the ways that you could identify yourself would be simply to enter your your driver's license number on the application, and they would use that as proof. what's to stop me from entering your driver's license number, if I've got it, that's a database that's online, I can find that in a second, if I'm willing to pay a little bit of money. So that makes voter fraud actually a lot easier. It would prohibit the secretary of state from making absentee ballot applications available online. Really, it would ban local clerk from supplying prepaid return postage for absentee ballots. So you would have to put a stamp on your envelope again, I don't know how that makes elections more secure in any way. All it does is make it harder for some people to vote, it would bar local clerks from counting absentee ballots in the weeks leading up to the election, and impose new requirements for ballot drop boxes that would make them a lot less acceptable to most people. All in all, it's designed to basically make it harder for people of limited means or people that have two jobs or single parents to vote because it's not nearly as easy for them as it is for somebody who's a retiree or somebody who is a white collar worker to take some time off to vote. Yes, some people just can't wait 234 hours in line to go out and vote when they've got two kids at home. They're a single parent, and they've got a job that they've got to manage. One of the nation's leading experts on voter rights is Michael li from the Brennan Center for Justice. He calls the battle over voting rights, the new civil rights campaign for America
Michael Li 22:43
has been a mission that we need a new, great civil rights bill for our age in the HR one can't be that bill. You know, it really brings together a strong suite of reforms, everything from making sure that people have the time to early vote that people would vote by mail easily they have a lot of these rules that are being put in place, you know, really very punitive rules in many places. Can't take effect. Right. But and this is something well, within Congress's wheelhouse Congress has the power to set the rules for federal elections under the Constitution under the elections clause. And it's done that by setting the National Election Day November. It's funded by the National Voter Registration Act. It's done that in many different ways. The fact of the single member districts in redistricting is Congress using its power under the elections clause. And so if you're one build on all of that, it really brings together the best practices from around the nation national floor for what what states have to do, right? It's not states can do of course more, but there's a national floor so everyone will have sort of be on a level playing field.
Walt Sorg 23:45
Michael li spoke on the podcast a republic if you can keep it our sister podcast, which is co hosted by former Michigan democratic party chair Mark Brewer, and former Michigan Republican Party executive director Jeff Timmer, one thing that I think is going to happen is you will see a counter petition drive if the republicans go ahead with their petition drive to put all of these voter restrictions into in place, you will find on the other side of petition drive to repeal what they're trying to do even before it becomes a part of state law, it's going to be a battle of the petition drives, millions of dollars will be spent. And when all is said and done, I'm pretty sure that the side for voter rights will prevail, but it's going to be a very expensive battle. And the ACLU spent millions of dollars to get to proposal three pasture in the 2018 election cycle, which was you know, the no reason absentee ballot among other things. And I'm sure the ACLU will be there along with the major unions of voters, not politicians, no doubt will be a part of it as well, which has got a built in base of people to go out and collect signatures. It will be a battle royale, but it is not a battle that's gonna end soon.
Christine Barry 24:51
Oh, it'll be ugly. But like I said, we should be there. We should meet like these people keep threatening us. And now we can get around governor Whitmer. Governor Whitmer is not your only problem, my friend.
Walt Sorg 25:02
That has been their mantra getting wrong governor Whitmer. She's the she won the election. And she wanted by 10 points. It wasn't like it was an accident that she became governor.
Christine Barry 25:10
And she continues to enjoy favorable ratings during a very difficult time. Yeah. If you want to get around with her, there are millions of us behind her.
Walt Sorg 25:17
If you want to get around Whitmer, beat her.
Christine Barry 25:20
Michigan republicans are looking for a candidate to do just that to run against Gretchen Whitmer. And so far, the only name is mentioned are not household names. I think we had I think we've got the one guy that climbed the wall. Yeah. Oh, that's right. John James is back. John James.
Walt Sorg 25:35
bet the perpetual candidate. But first of all, what are his qualifications are governors. Secondly, after his last two statewide races, is he the guy he's getting a lot of pressure actually to run for Congress, depending on how the districts look, because you might have a better chance of winning a congressional race. But eventually, you know, I guess he's just figured to be tries often enough, he'll win something. Worked for a free tenant or he went from running for governor to running for state representative on the Democratic side. But the other names they've got in there so far, people that nobody's ever heard of, because they're big names simply don't seem to be interested. Ronna McDaniel, the National Chairwoman, Ronna, Romney, McDaniel, has said she won't run next year. Neither will Candace Miller, who's the former congressional member who's now the Public Works Commissioner in Macomb County, and by Republican standards a bit of a centrist. You've got the of course, our Senate majority leader has said he won't run the former Speaker of the House may run although he's got a problem with the controversies that he'd left behind him. So they're down now they've got a guy who's a Detroit businessman, Kevin ranky, who most people haven't heard of, and a conservative radio talk show host, tutor Dixon, who's running but we'll talk more about that with Karl Malone in just a moment. You don't be somebody with nobody is what it boils down to.
Christine Barry 26:52
Yeah, I can't imagine being an actual member of the republican party at this point in time with everything I mentioned earlier, you know, the violence and the anti voting and just all of these really horrible, negative, disgusting, subhuman people, pig people things that they want to do and then going out and say yes, put me at the top of that ticket. I wouldn't want to do that.
Walt Sorg 27:18
Speaking of that show, we talk about rock you want to talk about Ron weiser.
Christine Barry 27:22
I do want to talk about Ron weiser What did he just say?
Walt Sorg 27:26
Well, he certainly doesn't think highly of the three women or a running state government
Ron Weiser 27:32
We have to make sure we have an opportunity to take out these three witches. Our job now is to soften up those three witches and make sure that we have good candidates to run against them, that they are ready for the for the burning at the stake.
Walt Sorg 27:59
take the witches and burn them at the stake, now he has kind of apologized for saying that after initially doubling down on it. He was taken out of all that crap. But
Christine Barry 28:09
you know what? apologies. Apology Shmapology. Just keep your apology. We all know what you're doing. And then and if that wasn't enough, he also told the crowd the republicans The only way to purge the party of non-Trump Kowtowing elected officials was through the primary election or the Vladimir Putin approach to dissent.
Ron Weiser 28:32
We live in a democracy where officials can change leadership is to get out and vote. Other than assassination we have no other way than to vote.
Walt Sorg 28:46
all of which painfully illustrates that the Michigan GOP is now the Trump party totally subservient to whatever Donald Trump would tweet. Of course, if his Twitter account hadn't been suspended. How strong is his grip in Michigan political writer Kyle Melinn of the MIRS political newsletter has done a deep dive into state GOP politics. The headline on his analysis why the GOP is still kissing Trump's ring. I think the headline writer was being polite. Kyle, your column in Lansing city pulse kind of says it all. Why the GOP is still kissing Trump's ring is the headline on it. And it is a strange phenomenon. Somebody who has lost every national election he's ever been in is still controlling not just the Michigan Republican Party, but it seems the national republican party as well as Michigan is pretty well entrenched at the top.
Kyle Melinn 29:38
Well, it certainly seems like and it's because the people who supported Trump here in Michigan are now in leadership positions at the Michigan Republican Party starting with the co-chair Meshawn Maddock. She was his one of his co-chairs back in his first campaign when he ran. Also we got Diane Schindlbeck back she was part of it. she is now the not the administrative I believe the grassroots chair and it and then of course we've got Marian Sheridan who is the administrative vice chair so we have three people who are part of the trump effort back when he started back back before he even won the primary i mean they were on the ground level are now in senior positions within the michigan republican party
Walt Sorg 30:27
one of the things i find fascinating about the donald trump phenomenon is the incredible personal loyalty he in genders amongst his supporters when you look at the last couple of cycles the only other candidate who's come close to that kind of personal loyalty is one of the other end of the spectrum bernie sanders what is the grip donald trump as a as a leader has not so much on the leaders of michigan republican party but on the grassroots of the republican party
Kyle Melinn 30:54
well i just think that he is somebody who connects with them and just like you said bernie sanders you know he's one of those people that when they when they talk they are so plain spoken they don't speak like politicians that they straight to the heart of what people are actually feeling and that's the sense that i'm getting when i'm speaking with republicans that he is expressing a type of anger that they haven't heard anybody else speak he turns off the the the filter and just speaks from the heart or says what he said he believes he says what they believe and that's basically what it is it's almost become kind of a lifestyle it seems like for people it's almost like almost like a televangelist it's really pretty incredible the type of following he says and the leaders of the republican party know that they're not going to let go of it so if that's what is bringing them to the republican party then that's what's bringing them and if candidates want to be successful in primaries like i said in the City Pulse they they feel obliged to have to kiss the ring
Walt Sorg 31:55
which sets the backdrop for next year's election cycle which is already really underway you have a governor whose overall approval rating is is in the plus territory but still in a state like michigan anybody is beatable at the state level on either side but you don't beat somebody with nobody and right now they've got nobody
Kyle Melinn 32:15
well they don't have anyone declared yet that's for sure i mean the three candidates that they do have who have announced you wonder if they're going to be in it when it's all said and done are they going to be able to get the 15,000 signatures needed are they going to be able to raise the money you've got someone in austin chang who wants to get rid of black history month i don't know how that's going to fly you know you've got someone ryan kelly who was at the january 6 riots he was on the capitol lawn at the time he's he's been pressured to resign as a planning commissioner in township and our county i don't know how that's gonna go and then they have somebody else who's filed who lightly known and may have problems getting money so what they i think what they're doing at the michigan republican party is they're trying to find the right candidate they are trying to avoid as much as humanly possible and expensive primary and that when they have a candidate to announce that candidates going to announce and i think what they'd like to see is kind of the waters part and that this person just is going to be like the nominee designee basically that there could be a primary but it's not going to be really much of a primary that's the impression that i get that the reason is because first of all they don't really want a divided party at this time kind of like with Dick DeVos in 2006 they don't want resources to get split up and how many directions they want to be able to get money into a candidate kind of like john james in 2020 that can just continue to raise money going up into the general election which they know is going to be competitive the democratic governors association or republican governors association other interest groups are going to be pouring a ton of money in but they just don't want a personal message to get to get split up right now so i understand that they don't have a somebody announced yet but i don't think that that should be a concern for republicans right now they will have somebody it will be somebody with name id and they will be funded they just got to figure out right now amongst themselves who that's going to be
Walt Sorg 34:26
well the two people that are being mentioned do have the name id of both last statewide fairly recently john james has lost twice now running for the united states senate and of course bill shooty three years ago was soundly defeated by gretchen whitmer those are the only really well known names in the field the other well known names have already said i'm not running
Kyle Melinn 34:47
yeah that's right i mean candace miller said that she's not running now could she be talked into a run you know that that's still a possibility you know people have changed their minds before and others hope that she does so but we'll have to see i know that there's some folks in the business community who are interested as well what they i think ideally they would like a female candidate i think they'd also like to tap into folks his experience with the COVID-19 having a negative response to the restrictions that the governor had to put in place to control the spread so if they have somebody from the business community who is a female that would be perfect i know that lena epstein has been approached she ran for us senate for a small period of time before she ran for congress against haley stevens and was not successful but i mean that's the type of candidate i think they feel like could get some traction but again we'll just have to stay tuned to who who they believe is the best one john james i think does have name id you're correct but does he come across this just now a perennial candidate you know just running every two years and getting close but no cigar you know does he want to go through that he's got a young family i mean does he want to go through the rules of another campaign cycle you know i guess we'll find out
Walt Sorg 36:13
we also could go in the other direction instead of having a kind of a consensus within the republicans you go back 12 years when you had four very conservative candidates running and then this unknown with no record by the name of rick snyder gets in wins the primary with 25% of the republican vote goes on to be elected governor for two terms there's at least a possibility if you get somebody with who's got absolutely no track record other than a great resume that's that's the other direction they could go
Kyle Melinn 36:42
yeah but i don't think they will i'll tell you why well because in 2010 the democrats didn't have an incumbent sitting in the office so they could go ahead and explore different options and let people fight amongst themselves because the democrats that have fight amongst themselves and Virg Bernero and Andy Dillon they don't have that luxury this time gretchen whitmer is raising money today i got another fundraising email from her today she raised $5 million last year they they they don't need a split primary that's not going to be helpful for them they know it Ron Weiser, Jon Yob, the folks over there they know that they can't afford to do that they got to find somebody that trump's pac will support that the rga can get behind because michigan is one of three states that they're looking at as far as flipping they think that gretchen whitmer with the right message can get defeated and they're not going to they're not going to split votes up that in the long term isn't going to be helpful for them
Walt Sorg 37:41
the other big unknown right now are the rules under which we're going to be conducting an election in 2022 it would appear that we are going to have republicans push through using the get the petition signed in jama through the legislature their voter suppression package going through and part of law although it'll probably be challenged in the courts it'll probably be subject to a counter petition drive as well in 2022 we can have a pretty chaotic election
Kyle Melinn 38:08
well i don't know if the bills that they're looking at pushing through that have the objections of folks like voters not politicians would actually be signed into law of the 39 bills i think the ones that are most objectionable have to do with voter id and shutting down the drop boxes after five o'clock pm on the day before the election there are some of those there are some bills in that package that i think should will get support the pre registration is 16 year olds and 17 year olds being one of them the other one being this idea of just having a an early election day on a saturday before the actual election i think that could get support i'm going to be curious to see if the republicans already get some additional bills sign are going to be open to expanding the ability for clerks to process ballots ahead of time with absentee ballots now being very popular particularly during this past pandemic and seeing how long it takes to process those things i would i would like to see if if they're willing to stretch that out a couple days right now they're letting some pre processing happen a day ahead of time but there's just so much work that's involved in in all of that it seems like if they're going to have an early election day back and set you know on a saturday they can follow the lead of florida which is decided after their 2000 election debacle that you know what if people are sworn to secrecy no one's pushing any tally buttons no one's cheating you got republicans and democrats watching the process that you can process ballots early and no one's gonna have their finger on the scale if you do the correct processes so let's let's see that's that's what i'm going to be watching for a while
Walt Sorg 39:53
i'll make you a wager i'll bet you i'll bet you dinner if we ever had to go out to dinner again that we ended up with a republican load petition drive to enact everything or virtually everything that you've seen just signed it along to georgia
Kyle Melinn 40:08
well that's very possible i i know that there is a group out there that's pushing that type of idea and i can see it getting a lot of support i mean one of the things that i've seen is a lot of still some i don't know what's the correct word says skepticism about the last election and that voters still believe that this election was stolen no matter how many times they're told otherwise they don't believe the press they don't believe biden they don't want to really believe anybody they believe that the election was stolen because they feel like you know where did all these absentee ballot applications come from they see trump saying that he should have won and that he believes the election was stolen it's amazing well how many people still believe that the election was stolen even though i have republicans like Beau LaFave come and tell me i'm telling people all the time that we just lost okay there's no there was no stuffing of ballots there was nothing illegal that went on we just lost and i don't like it any more than you do but it's the way it is but you know i was at this event last week while where there was this group that was kind of organizing and like the tea party vein and they call themselves the michigan leadership group and it was something like a tea party gathering there was about 200 people in the room and patrick colback the former gubernatorial candidate asked the people in the room how many of you people a show of hands think that the vote was legitimate was legitimate and nobody raised their hand and then he asked how many people think that there was some fraud but not enough to sway the election again i didn't see anybody raise their hand and then he asked how many people in this room think that the vote had fraud and it did sway the results of the election and everybody's hands shot up i don't know how i don't know how you combat that but if there was a group that want to organize a petition drive i don't think they would have any problems getting signatures so i see where you're going with that subject wall
Walt Sorg 42:15
okay let's quickly talk about your podcast the the MIRS Monday Podcast which is a little more down the middle than we are quite honestly we're an advocacy podcast we make no bones about it and you as a as a news organization covering lansing on a daily basis you bring in all sides there what kind of reaction are you getting from from legislators on both sides to the possibilities of actually getting something done in the next year or two
Kyle Melinn 42:42
it's not necessarily all that positive to be honest i think the divisions right now are as bad if not worse than we've seen before and then i've seen at any time and it's really because of the function of government unfortunately and what powers the governor has taken on to try and help steer the state through the pandemic and just the the rejection of that from the republican lawmakers you know two years or i guess after the insurance reforms were passed back in 2019 and the governor basically told the senate majority leader hey you know i helped get your car insurance stuff through let's work on getting the gas tax passed and he came up with an idea that was 15 cents you know obviously hers was a 45 cent increase and they just stalled out right there there was no negotiation for anything better and the relationships been just getting worse ever since and it's really created in an amazing amount of dysfunction i think in the capital whereas you would use to have meetings where the you know even jennifer granholm and mike bishop were able to get into a room even though they didn't like each other and were able to still cut deals mike bishop and and gretchen whitmer i don't know if they've had but one maybe one on one conversation in a year which just really doesn't create any functionality at all you know you get bills passed by the republican legislature that they know the governor is not going to sign you know both sides say that the others got to reach out to one another you know Curtis Hertel state senator and Jim Ananich have been trying to play middlemen for about a year i think i am getting the strong impression they're throwing their hands up saying shoot you know what we can't do it we try and are trying and it just not working the frustration levels pretty high on this wall
Walt Sorg 44:40
kyle always a pleasure talking with you thank you for taking the time to be with us today
Kyle Melinn 44:46
hey my pleasure walt anytime
Christine Barry 44:52
well it's time for some political notes another day another sexual harassment scandal involving politicians this time though the Man at the center of it isn't an elected official. It's one of the top political consultants in Lansing. And this really blew up last week. Well, I don't have a lot to add to this story. But first, I want to start out by saying it's clear that Chris savage broke this story last week. And so if you're big media or anybody else crediting the free press or other big media, you really should be crediting Chris. He's the one who did the work.
Walt Sorg 45:29
He writes the electablog, newsletter and also collect
Christine Barry 45:33
Eclectablog with a C.
Walt Sorg 45:37
And he also has a podcast, which is very good.
Christine Barry 45:40
So the short story here is that several women have come forward with allegations of sexual harassment against TJ Buckholtz of Vanguard public affairs, he's a progressive advocate and a consultant. There are additional allegations of enablement or failure to act against his business partner, Jen Eyer Irwin and a couple of other folks who are affiliated with CMU, and I think they were consulting or something for Vanguard at the time. This is disappointing, because you want to believe that someone who advocates on the same side you do is going to be a good person. And that's just not always the case, we learn this lesson over and over again, or we're given this lesson over and over again, and we don't seem to learn, you know what all I'm really going to add rather than pile on to these people. I'm going to add that I 100%. Believe the victims, and, you know, stand with them to the extent that I can. And to TJ, Jen and anyone else who participated in this Shame on you. To hell with you.
Walt Sorg 46:43
I don't want to get too deep into it. Because I know a lot of the people that are involved in this, I know several of the women who are amongst those who have made the accusations. Several of them are professional friends and non personal friends. But I've worked with them professionally. I found them all to be very smart, very professional, and very trustworthy. And I have no reason to doubt what they're saying. on a broader scale. I think it's something that a lot of men have got to confront, especially older men. I grew up during the Mad Men era. When Don Draper's behavior was kind of the standard for men, which men were dominant, and women were subservient. Why see Don Draper actually see my dad in a lot of ways I see it the best of my dad, and I see the worst of my dead, because that's the way it was. But men should have evolved from that point, we shouldn't have these stories about a Mario Cuomo. We shouldn't have the stories about a TJ Bucholtz out there. Because that stuff was was wrong then. But we didn't know what was wrong, then now we know what's wrong. We've known for a long time, I've had a lot of women who have worked for me over time. And I've always made it very clear to them. If I ever stray, if I ever inadvertently say something that makes you uncomfortable, or it goes over the line, just say something to me, and I would appreciate it because I need to learn. And I don't want to say that I'm perfect by any means. Because I'm not. But I want to learn from my mistakes. And that's the only ways for people to speak up to be privately there will be no repercussions. Other than this, for me to say thank you, I didn't realize I was doing that it happened to me Actually, years and years ago, I was in my 20s. I had two women working for me on the on the House staff who sat me down one day and basically said, hey, look at these are some of the things you're doing that just eat right. And when they may be aware that I was doing it, I changed immediately because they were right. And that's really all it takes is be aware of your environment, be aware that you're not perfect. And try to learn from it rather than doubling down on.
Christine Barry 48:37
I'll just add a couple of things real quick. I know we want to keep we need to wrap things up soon. First of all, a lot of people are doing things that are inappropriate, and they really don't mean to they're they're joking, they think something's funny. And perhaps if you're a man doing this, you have other women in the workplace who do think it's funny. And so then you think all the women think it's funny, that's not true. So reconsider the, you know, the boundaries there. And the second point I want to make, and I'm going to have links on the website about this, too, is that men are also victims of sexual harassment in the workplace. in universities, the reports of male victims and female victims of sexual harassment are almost the same, like like 61 in the 62%. I mean, there's a 1% difference, that there's more of a disparity in the workplace, and about 80% of male victims of sexual harassment, although it's a smaller number than the actual number of male victims as much smaller than the number of female victims, but about 79% of male victims don't even report and that's a much larger number than women who don't report so please, please do keep that in mind that men are victims as well have some some resources for you on that. You know, let's let's just be grownups and deal with this problem. There's no place for it and again to hell with you TJ
Walt Sorg 50:08
and ironically last week was also equal pay day. The date symbolizes how far into the year women must work on average to earn what men earned in the previous year. As happens every year, women in the legislature announced a package of bills to close and eventually end the gap. It's the 25th anniversary though of the first equal pay day in Lansing a group of legislators announced their package on Pay Equity joined by Mary Pollack from the Michigan Equal Pay Day coalition.
Mary Pollack 50:36
Ria for women think that government should require all companies with 100 or more employees to report gender and pay information that's addressed in one of these bills. Eight of 10 women want the government to require companies to include a wage or salary range and job posting that's in one of these bills. Two out of three women want employers prohibited from asking job applicants about previous pay. That's the subject of two of the bills in this package. So what is needed, researchers say stronger efforts to ensure non discriminatory hiring and pay practice such as this pay equity package would do increased efforts to attract women to well paid jobs that are now primarily done by men, higher pay and benefits in the essential care jobs now done primarily by women, better training and career counseling opportunities, improved work, family support, such as second family caretaking leave. Also we need more support for affordable high quality childcare, which has been amply demonstrated during the pandemic. We need to raise the minimum wage to a living wage, over 60% of those minimum wage shops are women.
Walt Sorg 51:53
I think the package will probably get through the statehouse, in part because so many of the members of the House are women, half the Democratic caucuses, women, and a goodly number of the republicans as a minority. But still a large number of the Republican members are women, who once it gets to that male Bastion, known as the senate where women are almost an endangered species. I have my doubts that we'll even get a committee hearing.
Christine Barry 52:14
I don't even think it'll get much Republican support with the women either. I mean, they've never supported it before. As far as I know, I didn't look into it. But I remember hearing these women speak out against it. And you know, based on the position that well, women leave the workforce and come back in and that's why they don't make as much money. That's not really the issue. But imagine being a woman opposed to your own equal pay. It's ridiculous.
Walt Sorg 52:43
It's interesting that our next two items both involve women who are in positions of power.
Christine Barry 52:48
Yes, Attorney General Dana Nessel has joined with ton of her peers and other states, calling on Facebook and Twitter to inject a little more truth into their wild west social media feeds. And you know, Walt, really what they're asking for is not for Facebook and Twitter to change their policies, but to enforce the policies that they already have in place. both platforms already have rules against disinformation campaigns, they they already have rules to flag things that maybe incorrect or are contested. But these campaigns are still out there and reaching a lot of people one, one group of anti vaxxers reached over 59 million followers on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube and Instagram. So yeah, definitely a problem. And you know, it's weird. Well, the reason that this is weird to me is that I had a picture of two construction, big construction machines like bulldozers, but I think they were like drills, you know, and they were playing tic tac toe, and it was taken down as hate speech. And I don't understand how they can catch that as hate speech. But these anti vaxxers can get 60 million followers.
Walt Sorg 54:02
I once posted the official logo of the Biden Harris campaign on my Facebook page, and they took it down because it violated their community standards. God bless when you're letting computers make decisions, I don't know how they came to that conclusion. Rashida Tlaib to leave has come up with a proposal that's likely to go nowhere, but will spark a lot of conversation. It's an adaptation of former presidential candidate Andrew Yang's proposal for universal basic income to leave along with Jeremiah pride pill of Washington introduced a bill that would provide everyone in the United States with a one time payment of $2,000 and monthly recurring payments of $1,000. Their effort thereafter, in an effort to provide sustained relief to the man struggling to afford food, rent and other basic expenses during the pandemic, and to pay for it wouldn't be added to the deficit. But talipes come up with a very interesting way to pay for it. She would authorize the US Mint to mint a one trillion dollar coin, try getting that into a vending machine. And then it would just add a trillion dollars of currency and they would use that trillion dollar coin to pay for the program. I'm not quite sure what the economist would have to say about that. But it is kind of a unique solution to enacting very expensive legislation without expanding the deficit, at least in theory without expanding the deficit. But like I say, it's probably going to go nowhere.
Christine Barry 55:26
Probably, a universal basic income would elevate everything, though. And I know the opposition to it is, well this is going to discourage people from working. That's not that's not true. Some people will be discouraged. But they're people who wouldn't have worked anyway, probably. And not discouraged from work, but they don't want to work. And here you are giving them money. Anyway, but this, this money is going to go right back into the economy, it's going to elevate everything. I think it's a really good idea. I have supported a universal basic income for decades, though. So that's kind of where I'm at on that. I don't really know all the specifics behind what Rashida proposed here. But the the idea of a UBI is actually a really good one. A couple of Michigan politicians dependent on big money Pac campaign contributions to keep them on in office are finding that trying to overturn elections can carry a high price. They may be needing that universal basic income themselves We're talking about Tim Walberg and jack Bergman. Both of them objected to the election certification. They signed and they signed on to that lawsuit by the Texas ag that tried to block Michigan from voting in the electoral college shortly after January 6, which was when the objection was some corporate donors cut them off. So General Motors Ford were Whirlpool, and some other companies cut them off with their, you know, their corporate donations. And then the citizens, citizen groups in these districts started looking through campaign finance reports and contacting smaller donors to ask them to withdraw their financial support. And these are just citizen led groups who felt they weren't being heard by the congressmen, they're opposed to what they did. They didn't feel like the congressmen cared about their opinions. So instead, they went to the donors who are often right there in their neighborhoods. And of course, Walberg and, and Bergmen are saying, you know, this canceled culture and everything. And actually, it's revitalized our fundraising, you know, efforts, we're getting a lot more small donations. We won't know that until those campaign finance reports come out. But it's it's silly, cancel culture, holding somebody accountable is not cancel culture.
Walt Sorg 57:46
Historically, they have not had very good grassroots fundraising, they've relied heavily on the PACs. You contrast that with some of the politicians on both sides of the aisle, who have tremendous grassroots fundraising operations. Alyssa Slotkin in Michigan is just bonkers on how much money she raises from small donations, she will not take corporate pac money at all, and she is one of the most well funded candidates in the country. On the other side, Donald Trump's got a great grassroots fundraising effort nationwide, it has made him very wealthy, he's probably pocketed a lot of the money himself. But nonetheless, he's got a lot of small contributions coming in on a regular basis. So it is possible to do but it's a lot easier to just get those big four and five figure check from the PACs. For the rest of us who have to rely on things like our jobs or unemployment, some good news, Congress made the first $10,200 of UI exempt from federal taxes. We already knew about that. It went into effect after the start of this tax filing season, but the IRS did announce it will adjust refunds to take the new exemption into account. And you won't have to file an amended return if you've already filed in fact, it'll slow things down if you file an amended return. And if you have already received your refund, they will just process the additional money that you're owed automatically. You don't have to do anything. And now state government, the Treasury Department has announced that it's going to follow that lead and do exactly the same thing. So hopefully, they'll be able to get the computer's programmed properly so that people get the money that's coming to them. I talked with my CPA and she thinks that everything is under control, but we won't know for sure until the refunds start showing up in people's bank accounts.
Christine Barry 59:25
All right, you have a CPA dedicated to you. That's pretty bougie.
Walt Sorg 59:29
Now what's up she was my campaign for when I ran for state representative and I owed her the favor plus quite honestly I feel a lot better paying her to do it than doing it myself using an online tech service. Because she gets it right number afraid I won't.
Christine Barry 59:47
Benton Harbor and the state are working to prevent that city from becoming another Flint when it comes to toxic water supplies. The city's problems are similar to Flint because it's it's based on lead pipes. And toxins leaching into the water from these aging lead pipes, Benton Harbor doesn't have the money for infrastructure upgrade. Now the elevated levels of lead in Benton Harbor showed up in about 2018 when the city changed sampling protocols and locations. So this isn't exactly like Flint where the government took steps to save money and they were slow to correct a problem that they created. This is a situation where the pipes are old, and the city doesn't have the money to fix that problem. And that's a problem that's nationwide. This is one of those infrastructure problems that we've talked about for the last couple of years. And it's a problem that we have to fix, it's going to happen over and over and over again. And it's going to happen to the cities that are poor, and not necessarily the, you know, the higher income Cities sitting right next door.
Walt Sorg 1:00:56
And literally in the case of Benton Harbor, the city next door, which is very wealthy St. Joseph, Michigan, just the other side of the St. Joseph river is very well off, and they have the money to take care of their pipes. It's literally A Tale of Two Cities. You just cross a bridge and you go from a city that's facing a potential water crisis to one that's got no problems at all. And also the same thing applies to their school districts. They're having huge issues in Benton Harbor no problems in St. Joseph, the income inequality on display there for everybody to see. Lest we forget President Biden held his first formal news conference since taking office last week, it was a one hour plus demonstration that things really have changed in the Oval Office. competence is back knowledge of issues is back. And politeness is back to civility is back. msnbc is Morning Joe put together a supercut illustrating just how much things have changed virtually overnight.
Joe Biden 1:01:53
I can say to the American people. Help is here. And hope is on the way.
Donald Trump 1:01:59
I just want to let you know. I inherited a mess.
Joe Biden 1:02:03
I can't guarantee we're going to solve everything.
Donald Trump 1:02:06
I can guarantee we can make everything better. There has never been a presidency. That's done so much in such a short period of time. We have to
Joe Biden 1:02:14
come together. We have to
Donald Trump 1:02:16
I certainly didn't win by people listening to you people. That's the
Joe Biden 1:02:20
other thing we're doing. I might add, I might give me too long an answer because if you don't want to detail,
Donald Trump 1:02:25
Russia is fake news, Russia. This is fake news put out by the media. And
Joe Biden 1:02:29
I'm also prepared. For some form of diplomacy.
Donald Trump 1:02:34
The greatest thing I could do is shoot that ship that's 30 miles offshore right out of the water.
Joe Biden 1:02:39
I took office. I decided that was a fairly basic simple proposition. And that is I got elected to solve problems.
Donald Trump 1:02:51
I do get good ratings, you have to admit that
Joe Biden 1:02:52
all I know I've been hired to solve problems to solve problems, not create Division
April Ryan 1:02:58
II want to include the Congressional Black Caucus and the congressional
Donald Trump 1:03:01
Well, I would I tell you what, you want to set up the meeting? Do you want to set up the meeting?
April Ryan 1:03:05
No, no. I know some of them. But I'm sure that's gonna
Donald Trump 1:03:09
Let's go set up a meeting.
Joe Biden 1:03:10
But what I know I have now is I have a electoral support from Republican voters.
Donald Trump 1:03:16
I put it out before the American people got 306 electoral college votes. I guess it was the biggest Electoral College wins since Ronald Reagan.
Joe Biden 1:03:29
My predecessor Oh God, I miss him.
Christine Barry 1:03:34
And with that we are done for this week. We invite you to head on over to our website, MichiganPolicast.com you'll find links and tweets from last week and videos and memes providing background plus extra information about things that we've talked about. So check it out. www.Michiganpolicast.com.
Walt Sorg 1:03:57
As always, we welcome your comments you can email us at EMI firstname.lastname@example.org or comment via our Facebook page or Twitter. And make sure you subscribe to our republic if you can keep it with longtime Michigan political insiders Jeff tipper and Mark Brewer, their guests on Wednesdays podcast we believe it's not confirmed yet but we think it's going to be former Ohio Governor and 2016 presidential candidate john kasich talking about his efforts to redeem the Republican Party. You can find their podcast on Apple podcasts, Google podcasts, tune in and I Heart Radio.
Michigan Policast with Christine Barry and Walt Sorg is a production of Michigan citizens for a better tomorrow.