Michigan Policast for Monday, May 17, 2021
- Masks and vaccinations
- Linda Vail on best practices regarding COVID-19
- MiLeg, conspiracies, and all kinds of theater
- Enbridge, energy, and jobs
- Tom Watkins on privatizing mental health treatment
- Political notes
Folks to follow on Twitter:
Jump to a topic:
- Segment one: Masks and vaccinations
- Segment two: Linda Vail on best practices regarding COVID-19
- Segment three: MiLeg, conspiracies, and all kinds of theater
- Segment four: Enbridge, energy, and jobs
- Segment five: Tom Watkins on privatizing mental health treatment
- Segment six: Political notes
- CDC says no masks required for fully vaccinated: What Michigan is doing
- Whitmer: Michigan mask mandate to be lifted for fully vaccinated
- $1 million lotteries and baseball for COVID shots? Not in Michigan | Bridge Michigan
- Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine seeks to incentivize coronavirus vaccines with chance to win $1 million – The Washington Post
- Holland restaurant owner to remain in jail for ‘selfishly' not following COVID orders
- Michigan GOP committee removes member who called out maskless meeting
- State Senate leader says he defied pandemic orders for ‘a couple haircuts'
- The Role of Incentives in Health – Closing the Gap
- The right decision wrongly handled?: Inside the Biden administration abrupt reversal on masks – The Washington Post
- Bridge Michigan coronavirus dashboard
- MDHHS COVID-19 Vaccine Dashboard
John Walsh, president/CEO of the Michigan Manufacturers Association and a former Republican lawmaker, says the “clear path to normalcy is vaccination.”
He also gives a shout out to Pfizer, one of the association's members, for manufacturing a vaccine.
— Rachel Louise Just (@RLJnews) May 12, 2021
“Vaccine-hesitant people” is code for Republican Primary Voter. Damn shame if something happened to them. Personal responsiblity and all… pic.twitter.com/DDzT9vQnAa
— Joe DiSano 🤘 (@JoeDiSano) May 16, 2021
Recently #COVID19 cases have decreased significantly, we’ve expanded eligibility for vaccination, & increased access to vaccines. We also now know that the vaccine is working in the public in the same way it worked in the clinical trials – it is over 90% effective. Terrific news! https://t.co/krswMJGnRR
— Rochelle Walensky, MD, MPH (@CDCDirector) May 15, 2021
- Ingham County Health Department
- Linda Vail on LinkedIn
- Ingham County Health Officer Linda Vail answers your questions about the COVID-19 vaccine
'Incentives might help get more people vaccinated but may create some problems. If a family at the poverty level can get some $$ to be vaccinated so they can pay the rent, did they really give true informed consent? Or was that coercion?' @LindaVail Click To Tweet
— Linda Vail (@lindavail) May 13, 2021
- $1.5B for Michigan child care in limbo as GOP plays hardball with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer | Bridge Michigan
- Michigan Senate panel votes to subpoena nursing home documents
- Michigan nursing home workers faced ‘heartbreaking' reality as COVID-19 hit, inspection records reveal
- Michigan GOP says Whitmer has ‘emasculated’ them, up ante in fight over COVID
- Governor's Inaugural Nonprofit Chartered Her Private Flight To Florida
- Gov. Whitmer discloses cost of Florida trip and how it was paid for
- Experts say why stories about Gov. Whitmer's Florida trip won't die
- Undisclosed And Untold: Most Lawmakers Have Ties To Accounts That Can Raise Money In Secret
- Michigan Transition
- Whitmer visited father on plane shared by prominent GOP donors
- Michigan GOP pushes to ban vaccine passports, university mandates | Bridge Michigan
- Michigan House Oversight Committee approves “vaccine passport” ban bill on party lines | Michigan Radio
- China's EV lead is widening. How that's bad for Detroit
- Canada: Stall Line 5 shutdown due to discussions with U.S.
- On eve of Line 5 shutdown deadline, Enbridge vows to defy Michigan order | Bridge Michigan
Here are the records Michigan Senate Oversight is seeking on nursing homes and other COVID orders. MDHHS says it amounts to about 55k documents that need to be reviewed before release, hence a two-month delay in producing them so far. pic.twitter.com/dY7OYQTb5R
— Jonathan Oosting (@jonathanoosting) May 13, 2021
- China's EV lead is widening. How that's bad for Detroit
- Canada: Stall Line 5 shutdown due to discussions with U.S.
- On eve of Line 5 shutdown deadline, Enbridge vows to defy Michigan order | Bridge Michigan
No better Mother’s Day gift for me than my first grandchild – Dylan arrived last week! pic.twitter.com/ckNP1JLEJG
— Jennifer Granholm (@JenGranholm) May 9, 2021
- Plan to overhaul Michigan's mental health system worries advocates
- Beaumont psychiatric hospital to be run by company with concerning past
- Sheehan: Keep public mental health system public
- Lansing's Patrick Babcock was Michigan's ‘Mr. Everything' for public service, friend says
- Plan to overhaul Michigan's mental health system worries advocates
- Beaumont psychiatric hospital to be run by company with concerning past
Mental health matters https://t.co/9wWwhpqeAY
— Tom Watkins (@tdwatkins88) May 14, 2021
- Amid worker shortage, Michigan to restore job search rule for jobless aid | Bridge Michigan
- Question Detroit Police Chief James Craig will have to answer | Opinion
- James Craig’s possible run thrills Michigan GOP. Detroiters, not so much. | Bridge Michigan
- Why political unknown James Craig is exciting Michigan GOP
- Michigan Governor – Craig vs. Whitmer
- Michigan Governor – James vs. Whitmer
- MIRS/Target Insyght
- Michigan Lawmaker Who Promoted Election Lies Wants To Register, Fine ‘Fact Checkers' | HuffPost
- GOP lawmaker floats bill to register and fine ‘fact checkers'
- Fact Checker Registration Bill
- HB 4813 – Fact Checker Bill
- Michigan AG Nessel is being sued to restore earned paid sick time & increased minimum wage laws | Eclectablog
- Michigan Republicans question if voters trust elections; poll says yes
- City Council explores ranked choice voting for 2022 elections | City Pulse
Fact: We can't legislate based on the #BigLie or smaller ones. Now is the time to protect the #FreedomToVote so all eligible voters can have a say in our future at the ballot box.https://t.co/3fJGhunfxC
— MI Senate Dems (@MISenDems) May 16, 2021
— Julie Brixie (@juliebrixie) May 14, 2021
Both Rep Upton & Rep Meijers are GOP reps from Michigan and they did NOT participate in #TheBigLie nor voted to toss our votes. The #defundbergman group is not going after @RepJackBergman because of his party, it’s about honesty and democracy.
— Teresa Ross (@Newlywed4Ross) May 16, 2021
Rochelle Walensky 00:04
Anyone who is fully vaccinated can participate in indoor and outdoor activities, large or small, without wearing a mask or physical distancing. If you are fully vaccinated, you can start doing the things that you had stopped doing because of the pandemic.
Walt Sorg 00:22
I know we've all heard that sound bite a lot in the last few days, but it's worth repeating. Our year long nightmare is winding down. But it's not quite over. I'm Walt Sorg
Gretchen Whitmer 00:33
life is looking and feeling increasingly normal. To date, Michigan has administered nearly 7.5 million doses of the safe, effective COVID-19 vaccinations. Over 55% of Michiganders have received their first shots and over 40% are fully vaccinated, including 70% of our seniors
Christine Barry 00:55
And the governor steps up the campaign to get Michigan to 70% vaccinations. I'm Christine Barry.
Walt Sorg 01:01
Also this week we'll try to clear up confusion over masks with the help of Ingham County Health director Linda Vail will also check in with former state mental health director Tom Watkins on talk from some republicans of turning our mental health system over to private insurance companies.
Christine Barry 01:17
And we'll also take a look at the latest petty political gamesmanship in Lansing and we'll bring back one of our favorite occasional features political parody songs with the ever brilliant Randy Rainbow and the Divine Miss M.
This is Michigan Policast with Christine Barry and Walt Sorg, Michigan politics and policy and the National stories impacting our pleasant peninsulas.
Walt Sorg 01:42
Okay, Christine, I don't know about you, but I felt a tremendous sense of relief when I heard CDC director Rochelle Wollensky break the news about the new guidelines for the 50% of Americans who are vaccinated or are partially vaccinated. But I'm also feeling a little uneasy. It's an honor system. And I'm pretty sure people who refuse to wear masks and refuse to get vaccinated can't be counted on to tell the truth. Before entering a you must be vaccinated venue. Your thoughts?
Christine Barry 02:11
I agree, and we have good reason to feel that way. It's always been an honor system when it comes to social distancing. And following the guidelines and the public health orders of this administration. That has always been an honor system. And it's been a joke because so many people openly flaunt their disregard for those orders. I bet if you we've talked about sheriffs and other law enforcement putting out press releases about how they wouldn't enforce anything. There's Mike shirkey bragged about getting haircuts when barber shops were closed. You know, Karl Manke the barber and Marlena the Bistro lady operating without a license. People patronize these businesses openly defying orders. And it's clear that honor system does not work even when there's a little bit of teeth behind what people are supposed to be doing.
Walt Sorg 03:06
Well, unfortunately, setting the tone for this as the partisan divide that has been created by Republicans. You've got in Congress now a situation where Republicans are furious with Nancy Pelosi for not lifting the mask requirement from the floor of the House of Representatives. But what she said basically is will lift the restriction when all the members have been vaccinated. Now they know that all the democrats have been vaccinated, but it appears that most of the republicans have chosen not to become vaccinated. And that is going to be a continuing problem. As long as they're providing the leadership in that direction. People are going to just simply refuse to take the vaccine and they're gonna have a problem.
Christine Barry 03:42
Well, Republicans believe in liberty and choice, and they have both the Liberty and the choice to leave the Congress if they don't like the roles of that system.
Walt Sorg 03:53
that I suppose as the case they're also complaining that the CDC has turned on a dime on this issue. And I would say in the defense of the CDC, and the scientists generally as well as the governor, they've made these abrupt changes, simply because they've assessed the newest facts on hand and realized that an adjustment is appropriate. Now, science isn't like ideology. ideology is like forever. You believe something ideologically and it's it's there from beginning to end in most cases, but with science sciences, they get new facts, they adjust. You know, there was a time in this country when we treated diseases by bleeding people and having them go to the barber. There was a time when we didn't know anything about germs when we didn't know anything about vaccinations, but as the scientific knowledge increased, so did their practices and that's what they're doing now. they now know with statistical certainty that the vaccines are incredibly safe and incredibly effective. If you've been vaccinated, your chances of becoming seriously ill with COVID are virtually zero. And that is a scientific fact. Now based on literally Millions of people who have been vaccinated
Christine Barry 05:02
ideology really doesn't change much like you said, unless there's some huge disruption in your life or you weren't that you know, committed to it in the first place. But science also doesn't just change on a dime. I mean, there is a scientific method that goes into decision making, and things have to be reproduced over and over and over again, there has to be peer review, and other people have to be able to get the same results as you. So it's not fickle. It doesn't just change because something new popped up. But it is way more reliable than ideology, which if you threw all the information, all the same kinds of tests at at ideology, it just doesn't care. ideology is based on faith based on emotion.
Walt Sorg 05:48
Now, the cynic in me thinks the real message that we're getting from the CDC and from the governor, although they would never say this is that for people who are vaccinated, it is perfectly safe for you to resume your life and you deserve to resume your life. You can say goodbye to the masks, except under very limited circumstances, and you can go on and do the things you used to do. And for those who choose not to get vaccinated, and those who choose not to wear masks, you're on your own. If you choose to be, shall I say stupid, or make a bad decision, you have the right also to suffer the consequences. And we've done as much to protect you as we can. Now it's up to you.
Christine Barry 06:28
That being said, I fully intend to continue to wear a mask and social distance and do things to be respectful of other people while I'm out partially because it's it's comfortable, but mostly because I don't want to put anybody in a position where they are uncomfortable with me not knowing whether I've been vaccinated.
Walt Sorg 06:46
It's interesting, you say, you're used to the mask a few days ago, I walked into a Subway sandwich shop to pick up lunch. And I didn't wear my mask. And I felt a little freaky. I mean, I felt I thought it was sort of like walking out of your house without your cell phone. You feel naked without it anymore. And that's the way I felt. I think it's gonna be a real adjustment for a lot of people to go maskless again, especially knowing that there are people out there who may be infected and are asymptomatic or worse yet, maybe slightly symptomatic and don't even realize they've got it or don't care.
Christine Barry 07:20
Well, the Whitmer administration is focused on getting Michigan vaccinated and to help overcome vaccine reluctance. state health director, Dr. Joneigh Khaldun is looking towards the most trusted source of individual health advice. That would be family doctors.
Joneigh Khaldun 07:37
I'm asking every primary care doctor to enroll as a vaccine provider. The most important thing we can do right now is to make vaccines available for whenever someone is ready. We know that patients trust their doctors, and when they are ready to get vaccinated. We want you to have vaccine on hand. Reach out to your patients now and ask them if they've been vaccinated. And if they have any questions that you can answer about the vaccines.
Walt Sorg 08:06
And this is also an economic issue a point the governor tried to drive home at her last news conference by calling on the head of the Michigan Manufacturers Association, john Walsh, who pointed out that vaccinations and jobs go hand in hand.
John Walsh 08:21
In our opinion, the clear path to normalcy is through vaccination, of critical importance to manufacturing as we continue to grow and recover from the pandemic is the need to get production workers on site. And one of the biggest challenges, of course, is childcare. Parents need to be confident that their children can return to school or Board of Trustees at the local level, our teachers, they need to be confident in the school system to get folks back, make sure our kids are safe and being educated. And then in turn, their parents can return to the workforce. So it's another additional reason why we encourage vaccination.
Walt Sorg 08:59
And it is exciting, the schools will be able to reopen in the fall. And I would be surprised if any of them are on hybrid or remote learning anymore. In the fall, everybody will be back to normal. I know the teachers want it that way. And the fact that most of the adults that work in schools, teachers and support personnel, they are vaccinated makes you feel a lot better, especially now that kids 12 and up can also get the vaccine.
Walt Sorg 09:22
One thing we do know is the next few weeks are going to be a little confusing for people because it's the honor system and because maybe we're not sure when we should be wearing masks even when we don't have to, after a year of being conditioned to live like hermits and wear masks to avoid death. We all have to get used to the idea that the vaccine has for now made at least some of us virtually immune from any serious impact of COVID-19. But what are the best practices for us based on what we know now about the vaccines and about the virus. I reached out to someone who has been one of the local government all stars in the fight against the pandemic ngam County's Chief Medical Officer Linda Vail ironically, when I talked with Linda, she was working out of her home office what she's been doing for the last year, because Ingham County Offices are still closed. Linda, Thursday had to be one of the happier days you've had in the last year, if not the happiest.
Linda Vail 10:14
Ah, you know, it was one of those happy days and also a bit confusing at the same time. So, and then, you know, of course, the consequences of it, you know, you kind of start thinking through all of that. And it's, it's, it's happy. And it's also I think, going to present some challenges, unfortunately, so. But you know, all in all, it shows the public, that we're moving in the right direction, and that this is not forever, and that there's a way out. And so that is very positive.
Walt Sorg 10:45
The message from the CDC, and now, I guess, from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, is that, in fact, those of us who have been fully vaccinated and have completed the two week waiting period after we can go back to our normal lives with the exception of a few minor conditions for traveling on public transit, for example, are you comfortable with that
Linda Vail 11:05
I'm comfortable with it. So long as you know, it actually unravels in the way that it's intended. So and keep in mind that it's not back to normal completely, we do still have some capacity restrictions and other things like that this is really regard to masks. So you know, the issue is, is like fully vaccinated, people can not wear masks indoors. And we know that the mask is more to protect others from you in the case of this type of mask, unless it's an in 95, rather than you from others. And so when you start to think about the fact that this is really, truly an honor system, and nobody's going to be checking at the door of anywhere to see are you fully vaccinated or not. And so, you're going to have to assume that if you see unmasked people that they are vaccinated people, and that's great for unvaccinated for vaccinated people. But if you have unvaccinated people, then taking advantage of that too, and rest assured that will happen, then we have you know that that level of not protecting others from them in the case that these unvaccinated people may indeed have, you know, a COVID infection that's that they don't know about yet. And they are exposing others. But again, you're exposing others to vaccinated people, but then there are going to be other unvaccinated people around as well.
Walt Sorg 12:23
So we still need to get more people vaccinated so we can get truly back to normal, get Spartan stadium opened in the fall and things like that.
Linda Vail 12:31
Right. So you know, you're looking at that go back to the back back to normal thing. And you're looking at some of those other things to start to start to limit the capacity restrictions or eliminate the capacity restrictions. And it's a it's a graduated thing where those things happen over time, the masks are just part of it. We do we do still have restrictions in terms of gathering sizes.
Walt Sorg 12:52
What about the schools next fall? Already? Kids have to get a lot of inoculations prior to entering a school, assuming and I guess, maybe taking a big jump here, but assuming that the vaccines are available for kids under 12, as they are now for children 12 and older, is that going to be a requirement for for kids going back to school,
Linda Vail 13:13
I don't believe you will see it as a requirement immediately this fall. If you keep in mind, we are under emergency use authorization for these vaccines rather than full approval, we do expect the full approved approval for the Pfizer vaccine sometime this summer. But I think that full approval would be based on their first emergency use authorization, which was 16. And over the next one that added in the 12 to 15 is going to be behind that and in terms of timing. So I don't know that you'll be at a point this fall where you would be able to require that for schools. And I think there's going to have to be a lot of consideration at the level of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, the CDC and states to really determine whether or not it's going to be one of those vaccines that you require for school places.
Walt Sorg 14:02
What about the incentive programs that are being set up around the country, the governor has set up her guidelines simply for getting rid of masks and other shades you're getting from Free French fries to a raffle for a million dollar prize? Do you think we need to go further than what the governor has done in terms of incentivizing people who are a little reluctant
Linda Vail 14:22
incentives are another one of those two edged swords? On the one hand, while it might help us get a few more people vaccinated, I think that when you see government basically offering money or something to people to do something that can also create some problems and equity issues, if you imagine is a person truly giving informed consent about being vaccinated if say they're a family of four, living at the poverty level, all of a sudden realizing that they can get some money to be vaccinated and they can't pay their rent. So I'm going to get vaccinated because I need to pay my rent. Did I really give true informed consent? Or was that coercion? It really depends on the incentive. And it really depends on where the incentive comes from. I think I'd rather see the incentives coming from the private sector, in terms of you know, incentivizing employees, incentivizing patrons, people who want to fly that sort of thing, in terms of being able to do certain things or fly without mass, those sorts of things. Rather than necessarily a lot of government incentives. I will tell you that we, even this summer, did a testing clinic with Meijer as a sponsor, and we offer gift cards and a bag that had some trinkets and things in it that Meijer did as part of that collaborative effort. And when we posted that on our Facebook page, that probably was one of our posts that got shared the most and commented on the most about bribing people, coercing people, that sort of thing. So I think we're in a delicate spot right now, with regard to those things, and the optics of how that looks, given what we've been through in this last year.
Walt Sorg 16:01
One last question on a personal level, are you planning to hit a restaurant without your mask in the next few days?
Linda Vail 16:07
I am not sure. here right now, you have to keep in mind that Michigan has gone through a surge that we didn't see across the rest of the country. If I can dine outdoors, I will still choose to dine outdoors. When the CDC that said that people could travel, domestic travel if they were fully vaccinated. I did make a trip out to to Las Vegas where my son lives, and I had not seen my son since just after Christmas 2019. Case rates, positivity rates, that sort of thing are much lower out in in Nevada than they are here. And I did eat indoors at a restaurant while I was there.
Walt Sorg 16:46
What a strange experience that must have been. Thank you so much, Linda Vail, Ingham County's health officer, appreciate your expertise, and keep fighting the good fight.
Linda Vail 16:56
Christine Barry 16:57
And our thanks to Linda Valle, not just for the interview, but for spending virtually every day of the last year fighting to keep people healthy. And really she has I mean, she has been really vocal and just put herself out there to help people.
Walt Sorg 17:11
She's one of the heroes.
Christine Barry 17:12
Yeah, so thank you, Linda, we notice you we see you. Meanwhile, the games go on in Lansing. And this is just insane. The Republicans in the legislature are using the budget process to force their way into the executive office and into the Secretary of State's office. They've advanced bills that require governor Whitmer to give up some of her executive authority on the budget and on public health. These bills would also limit the authority of Health and Human Services, they would prohibit departments from requiring proof of vaccinations for employees or visitors to enter state office buildings. And Walt, as a former foster parent, I am not sure how I feel about that for Child Protective Services. Because those places can be gross. They really can because you have so many people coming in and out it's a petri dish of yuck. Anyway, moving on, they've also used the budget process to mandate or to try to mandate how the Secretary of State branch offices operate and to try to control some of the vote by mail system. They have added financial incentives for county prosecutors to investigate the COVID nursing home processes for criminal activity. And, you know, there's even more than that their school funding business relief being held up because the republicans just can't, can't move forward. And, you know, I rarely really cuss on this show, but this is all bullshit. And that's all it is. And that is the very best description of what this is. And I understand why they're angry. You know, I remember Ed McBroom, the guy who is going after her on the nursing homes, came right out and said he paid they've been emasculated. But she has negotiated with them on some of the response, though, admittedly, not a lot after the first couple of months. But earlier in the show, while we were talking about the honor system, and the republicans just don't take COVID seriously. You know, we're a year into this a half a million Americans have died now. And oh, man, the numbers keep going up. But just the other day, we saw we finally had a state come out and say that there were zero deaths in that state on that day, and this is a year over a year. And the Republicans, the things that they do broadcast to the world that they literally do not take this seriously. And I suspect some of that was Trump's messaging. Some of it is this “plandemic” conspiracy stuff. But when you have a group of people like that, how do you negotiate with them? That's like trying to negotiate with the actual virus to get it to stop infecting people.
Walt Sorg 20:00
If you look at the National Statistics, the three states that are having the most problems right now with infections, hospitalizations, and deaths are on a per capita basis. Texas, Florida and Alabama. What do they have in common freedom loving right wing governors, from the Republican Party, because they've gave up I tried to stop the virus weeks ago in the name of freedom and liberty and everything else. And as a result, they're gonna see more deaths in their states. And I hope they paid the political price for it, whether it's in a primary or a general, you know, in Texas, it really looks interesting. Now, if you got Matthew McConaughey talking about running in the primary against the governor, that could be all right. All right, all right. He could be in real trouble down there. And I don't know what's going to go on with his Looney tune governor of Florida. He is doing his very best to be the Donald Trump of the panhandle. And maybe Matt Gaetz will help sink him
Christine Barry 20:56
I don't know. But I our political system in in many places has just turned into a joke. I mean, DeSantis signing those voter suppression bills on Fox News, come on. Yeah. Maybe it wasn't Fox News. I don't know what show it was on Fox. I don't even care. It's inappropriate. It's just a it's a clown. It's a clown show. It's a clown car. And all these people trying to squeeze themselves into it.
Walt Sorg 21:20
A point that carries through it a lot of things that are going on politically, right now is the Republican Party, at least the leadership of the Republican Party is much less about actually passing legislation that's positive, or having a philosophy and it's a much more about performance. It's a reality show for them, just like the apprentice was back in the day and the Celebrity Apprentice. That's what they look on government as right now the Celebrity Apprentice, look at Marjorie Taylor Greene, and she exalted when she was thrown off all our committees, because then she'd have more time to do what she likes to do, which is cause trouble and raise money. And she's doing both of those exceedingly well. But in terms of representing our district, she's not getting anything accomplished, other than getting in the face of the libs, that doesn't move our country forward. And of course, the only republican gets in trouble right now in Congress is Liz Cheney. We'll talk about that a little bit later. And you have the serious side of the Republican caucus, and there's still a lot of them out there. But they're pretty much being silenced. And in Michigan, it's the same way. There are a couple of COVID adjacent stories that are kind of outrageous. First, the continuing saga of the governor's trip to visit her ailing father in Florida, a story which the governor in our office finally hopefully brought to an end, but not after one final misstep. And it was by the governor,
Gretchen Whitmer 22:33
like a lot of children of parents who have health issues or relatives who have health issues. I showed up when I was needed. I did a lot of cooking, a lot of cleaning. I also did my day job, meaning I was on regular calls and conferences with my team, I didn't miss any of that work as well. When you're the governor of Michigan, you're always on the clock. But it doesn't mean that you're not also a daughter who shows up when a family member needs her. And this flight was not a gift. This flight was not paid for at taxpayer expense. When a family member of mine needs a little help, though, I'm going to show up, just like when we have a crisis here. We're going to work 24 seven to keep the people of this state safe.
Walt Sorg 23:16
And by the end of the week, she finally caved into the pressure. And I think it's about damn time and said look at this was paid for out of my 501 c four nonprofit that I set up initially to fund the inauguration. It's a perfectly legal way to do it. Those funds are basically have a lot of discretion in how they use their monies. They don't have to report where their money comes from. And it's not necessarily something that is an admirable source of funding, but every politician or every political leader does it. And that's just the way the system is right now the system needs to be changed. My problem with her as I said on earlier podcast was why the hell didn't she just put this out to begin with, especially since the money they spent to charter that jet through her nonprofit ultimately did have to be reported publicly. That's how we found out they filed their their quarterly financial report with the state. And it pointed out that they'd spent $27,000, or whatever it was on travel. That was money paid to charter that jet. If you just set it at the beginning, it's a two day story and it goes away. Instead she drags it out for weeks by just not being transparent. It is a major screw up on the part of the governor and her communication staff. And I would hold them accountable for that. It's it's not a fatal flaw, but it's just stupid.
Christine Barry 24:34
It was an unforced error on her part. You know, you've known Gretchen and her family for a long time. I've watched her I've known her. I know her a little bit, you know, personally, but really, I'm not a friend. But everything that we know about her is that she is a fiercely private person. She was that way in the Senate. She was probably that way before that. I didn't know her before that She has gone out of her way to make sure that her private business stays private, even though she's in public life, she's always been that way. And I think that this was just like, a reaction if she didn't want to talk about it. And that was a mistake, she should have disclosed it because she, you know, she has to So, you know, I think it was her personal nature got in the way. And you know, she's gone through this traumatic thing of being threatened, probably just, I don't know, reinforce that, that feeling that she had to protect every bit of information that she could. So I don't think what she did was right. But that's what I think probably led to that. I don't think it was some calculated political decision, or anything like that. And you know, the other thing I would add to this, is that a lot of people are saying she can disclose all of the details of the trip now, because something that happened in the past can't be a security risk in the future. And unfortunately, it can be a security risk.
Walt Sorg 26:01
let me give an example is a little self serving. But dating back to my days when I worked for the Blanchard administration, and was handling Public Affairs for his economic development program. I did a lot of international travel, I went over to Japan a couple of times was in Australia three or four times. And every time I took a trip, I made sure that my friends in the press corps knew I was going before I went, I made a point of letting them know that I was going to go so that they wouldn't think I was trying to hide something. Once on one of the trips to Australia, or delegation for economic development was led by Fred Kelly. And it was a few months before the election, the Attorney General was very nervous about the blowback he might get. And I said, Frank, here's what we do. We brag about it. If you brag about it, if anything, they're going to be more reluctant to write about it, because they don't want to help you with your PR. And so that's exactly what we did, we put out a press release announcing that he was going while he was in Australia, he called up JP McCarthy, who was the radio god of Michigan, back then it was on his show two or three times from Australia talking about his trip. And we got nothing but positive coverage. As a result, we did the same thing when I took a trip to Japan with a delegation that included both the first lady at the time Paula Blanchard, and also my boss at the Commerce Department, Ralph Gerson. And we actually shot videos over there and send them back to the United States for the TV station. So they could see that we were over there and see what we're doing. Again, we got virtually 100% positive coverage. That's how you handle something that can be there was nothing wrong with what the governor did. It's simply that she tried to hide it that made the press correctors interested in the whole thing, and turned it into a two or three week story.
Christine Barry 27:40
Well, she had to hide it, you know, before it happened, right, of course.
Walt Sorg 27:47
And nobody has a problem with that what they had a problem with, was the disclosure after the fact when it no longer was a security issue.
Christine Barry 27:55
Yeah. And everybody knows that. investigative journalists knows bloggers, if people like, like you all, who is in radio and in policy and politics for a long time. You know, back when I was blogging, Chris Savage, everybody knows that if you get a hint of some kind of cover up, that's when you dig in. And that's when you talk about it. And that's where the unforced error here was and and Zach Pohl knows that too, and he should have, I don't know what happens behind closed doors, but Zach was a blogger as well, and he knows how this goes. So it shouldn't have happened, but it did. Hope or dad's okay. I'm glad that everything worked out.
Walt Sorg 28:34
Zach is the Deputy Chief of Staff now for the governor started out in the will with the governor's campaign. And then in the governor's office. He was initially the communications director and he's moved up the ladder since then, generally very brilliant and very competent guy, but sorry, Zach, you mess this one up. You or somebody in the executive office? Probably all of you.
Christine Barry 28:52
Somebody I mean, he might have just been overruled. Whatever cause this was it. You know, it didn't work out. Okay. Well, last week, we talked with Representative Julie brixey. About a bill to ban something that nobody's proposed, state issued COVID passports. This week, Republicans on the House Oversight Committee sent the bill to the floor where will likely pass on a party line vote and the processes they inspire democratic state senator Curtis Hertel to mock them in senate debate, saying with the movement on this bill, he has become a winner in the conspiracy theory Bingo.
Gretchen Whitmer 29:33
I've got a bingo here in the right wing. Conspiracy Theory nonsense bingo game we've been playing for a while. For those playing at home that's election stolen herd immunity, attacks on massive vaccines and nursing homes paid for COVID deaths. And now vaccine passports. So I'm not going to treat this as if it's any more than that for real. I'm hoping that Now that we've won the crazy conspiracy theory, bingo, then we can move on to the Michigan people winning and actually work on things that actually are happening in Michigan. That matter of people in Michigan. And we hope that we can move on to their families winning, and not whatever nonsense we're doing on this end of the floor this week. Appreciate that, and I asked for my remarks and put it in the journal.
Walt Sorg 30:22
As usual, when Curtis or tell speaks, I say, Amen. Amen. Amen. Rave on brother.
Christine Barry 30:28
And I just want to give a shout out to Julie Brixie for suggesting that we ban Bigfoot next. I loved it. That was gold. I'll have it in the show notes.
Walt Sorg 30:39
Okay, let's move on to talk energy and jobs. While the gas shortages created by the hacker shutdown of the colonial pipeline was ending the lesson learned should be enduring. President Biden pointed out that our infrastructure dependent more than ever on the internet needs an upgrade, which no surprise is a big focus of his American jobs and infrastructure package.
Gretchen Whitmer 31:00
Now we're seeing the effect of criminal hackers with gas lines throughout the southwest of the Sumi, the southeast. And we're in a competition with China and the rest of the world to win the 21st century economically. And we're not going to win when competing with an infrastructure that is out of the 20th century. We need a modern infrastructure. My American jobs plan includes transformative investments in modernizing and securing our critical infrastructure.
Christine Barry 31:31
During the week, Governor Jennifer Granholm now Secretary of Energy and our current governor Gretchen Whitmer, were featured on a national teleconference sponsored by axios. The subject was climate change with the subheading of creating a lot of jobs. As we've noted before, this is nothing new for Granholm. She was preaching the job creation power of clean energy. 20 years ago as Michigan's governor.
Jennifer Granholm 31:55
We need to diversify, we need to diversify into areas where we know the as we say, in Michigan, where we know the puck is moving, the puck is headed into that area. And in this case, it meant building the electric vehicle and means building the guts to that electric vehicle. So now the auto industry is off of its knees, it's building the electric vehicle they've committed to many of them have committed to all electric fleets. And by the way, Michigan makes 1/3 of all North American battery production is in our state because we made policy choices to to double down on clean energy. So and you know, people want their energy clean, and they want to be able to benefit from the jobs. And we want to make sure that the products that get us there are built in the US. And that really was the pitch that I made in Michigan, and really is the pitch I want to make across the country. And it's more importantly the pitch that the President is making across the country.
Christine Barry 32:48
Governor Whitmer noted that the big three domestic automakers were a little slow to the starting gate falling behind Tesla, Toyota and a slew of Chinese manufacturers, but they are now stepping up bigly.
Gretchen Whitmer 33:01
There's some phenomenal things that are happening in our big three. And as they go, they pull a lot of other businesses with them and they make their investments accordingly. And that's why I think it's so important that we're ready that we build up the infrastructure to support electric vehicles that we work very closely with our neighboring states and of course, the federal government as we stake out aggressive agenda in the space to support the these mobility solutions of the future.
Walt Sorg 33:29
Before we move on to the next energy issue. Christine, I think it's probably appropriate for us to step aside for a moment for a personal thing. You and I both have the privilege of being friends of the Granholm family, Granholm Mulhern family, you on a more personal level than I do. And that's a great news this week.
Christine Barry 33:46
They've had their first grandchild. Cece's baby was born last week or the week before. Anyway, Jennifer announced it on Twitter. And I will share that tweet in the show notes. And congratulations to Dan and Jennifer. They're both very excited.
Walt Sorg 34:01
Is that the daughter who's living in Washington, and currently their landlord?
Christine Barry 34:05
Correct? Correct. Yeah. Secretary of Energy their son is living in their –
Christine Barry 34:10
– Yeah, they're ilving in the basement.
Walt Sorg 34:11
Yeah, living in the basement. It's It's It's an all American story, to say the least. We do have another energy issue of critical importance in Michigan. And that of course, is the ongoing battle over the Enbridge five pipeline, what is the latest?
Christine Barry 34:25
So after the 180 day notice now we're at the end of it and it's looking like it's gonna be the showdown that we all expected. Governor Whitmer and and AG Nessel have dug in and they are committed to shutting that pipeline down and Enbridge is dug in. They say we don't have the authority. Canada is now saying that are not supposed to interfere with international treaties. So it looks like it's going to be a big showdown. I don't know how this is going to play out. I know that Enbridge and The state are still waiting to find out what venue what court that we're going to end up in. The oil is not going to stop going through that line. But you know, what really bothers me about this whole thing is that Enbridge, their defense is that line five, at least where the straits are, is one of the best maintained, it's one of the best built pipelines. And yet it's had all kinds of trouble, right? its head anchor strikes –
Walt Sorg 35:27
It's as well built as the Kalamazoo pipeline was
Christine Barry 35:30
right. So I don't and I'll be honest with you Walt, I don't really like Enbridge, I think that they're liars. I think they've covered up so many things, and many of them that we don't even know about. That's just my own personal belief based on what we do know about. So I don't want them in charge of a pipeline that's on the floor of the straits. AG Nessel suggested that if Canada wants the pipeline so bad, they put it in Canadian territory so that they assume the risk and Michigan doesn't, it still doesn't protect our Great Lakes. We just you know, we have no business running oil under the under the Great Lakes.
Walt Sorg 36:10
A really interesting perspective on this was voiced on last week's MIRS Monday podcast. That's the Michigan information Research Service. I highly recommend their podcast By the way, they do a great job over there. Our friend Kyle Melin is the host of it. Go ahead and get it. It's mirsnews.com is where you can find it. And their guests was Jim Blanchard, our former governor whose perspective is multifaceted First of all, obviously, is the former governor of Michigan he's got a great interest in the sanctity of the Great Lakes. He his wife happened to own a summer cottage they call it it's probably a mansion, but a really nice home within pentwater on Lake Michigan. But he's also a former member of the board of directors of Enron and the former United States Ambassador to Canada. There's probably nobody in Michigan is more knowledgeable on both sides of this issue than Jim Blanchard. Rather than trying to sum up what he said I would suggest people go over to that podcast and listen to it. He did predict I believe in the podcast that ultimately we're going to end up with getting a mediated settlement that results in Enbridge being able to build a new buried pipeline underneath the straits that would be much more protected. Listen podcast in general, it's a very it's an excellent discussion much more than we got time for today on this podcast.
Christine Barry 37:27
I have like so much to say about Enbridge but I know it's just gonna lead into nothing.
Christine Barry 37:38
Michigan congressman Fred Upton, one of the 10 Republicans who voted to impeach Donald Trump is speaking out against fellow Republicans in Congress who are attempting to rewrite the history of January 6. Some Republicans now are claiming that it was actually just a bunch of tourists with a few who were rambunctious.
Walt Sorg 38:00
They really said that.
Christine Barry 38:01
I'm so sorry. Others contend the insurrectionists weren't Trump supporters, but left wing terrorists masquerading as MAGAs
Fred Upton 38:10
It's absolutely bogus. It's absolutely bogus. You know, I was there. I watched a number of the folks walk down to the White House and then back I've got a balcony on my office. So I saw them go down. I heard the noise. The flashbangs smelled the some of the gases it moved my way, obviously was watching live the live video. It was carried on all the networks at the time. I don't know what their motivation is. But I know that as I talked to some colleagues, even again this week who were in the chamber, it was terribly frightening. It was they and they knew that by stopping some of those folks from getting inside of the House chamber. It probably is probably saved their lives.
Walt Sorg 38:58
Appearing on CNN Sunday morning. Upton also decried the dumping of ultra conservative Liz Cheney from the House leadership simply for the sin of telling the truth about the election, January six, and Donald Trump,
Fred Upton 39:11
I was very disappointed about what we did. She accepted that it should go by a voice vote earlier this week. And so that's the way that it happened. You know, it's the president, former president that continues in even yesterday about the big lie about the election being stolen. We're not going to win unless we're a big tent, and we're not going to win unless we add to our base and not subtract from it.
Walt Sorg 39:37
I'm really fascinated Christine about what all of this bodes for 2022. Normally, it should be a terrible year for the President's party. They should lose a lot of seats in Congress historically, they almost always do but the Republican Party is splitting wide open. You've got the majority Trump caucus in the party which is just devoted to the grifter at Mar a Lago. You've got people like Fred Upton and Peter Meijer and Liz Cheney, and the Lincoln project, and Jeff Timmer, here in Michigan and folks like that, Paul Mitchell, former congressman from Michigan is now a part of the stop Trump movement. I don't know if this party can survive the 2020 election, despite all the built in advantages they've got going into it.
Christine Barry 40:23
You know, it is hard for I mean, we all know the history midterms anyway, but it is hard for our on the left, you know, Democratic side of things, our Coalition's to stay together because we tend to look at things and say, okay, they didn't get that, that pipeline out of there. Like they said, they didn't do this with immigration, like they said, you know, and look at that and say, okay, so I can't vote for him. So they just sit out. And on the other side, you have all this hatred that motivates people to go and vote for people like Marjorie Taylor green, who is freaking idiot, at her biggest accomplishment is an anti trans poster outside her door, and stalking AOC down the halls, how do we overcome that hatred that is so motivating for those people? And that's, that's the reason why I'm not feeling more comfortable with, you know, them falling apart in terms of their get out the vote, and, you know, their base splitting and so on. But I gotta tell you, it freaks me out that a cheney looks sane. Yeah, that that is not right. This is not right. Because the Cheney's, I mean, worse than Darth Vader.
Walt Sorg 41:42
it's hard to believe that you're rooting for Liz Cheney. But given the state of Wyoming politics, no democrat could get elected there. Unless she ran as an independent, that's probably not going to happen, I think she'll get, she may get beat in the primary. But at that point, they've got a sore loser law. So she can't run as an independent in the general she could write as run as a write in. But however it pans out, they're gonna have a Republican member of Congress, in all likelihood, it's strange.
Christine Barry 42:10
They're also going to have a Cheney factor, but she because she's already committed to making sure that Trump doesn't run again, or he doesn't win again. And along those lines, she's just going to be fighting the Trump. I don't know the Trumpness, I don't know what to call it, the MAGA I guess I know, there are some things that genuine Republicans who are not crazy are really very proud of about the whole America first agenda. But I mean, Trump is nuts. And and if Liz Cheney is out there talking about that, that can only help the sane Republicans. And just really long for the day when when the Cheney's of the world look crazy again, you know,
Walt Sorg 42:56
yeah, it's frightening to think that George W. Bush looks like a statesman. Now, the other factor that comes into play as we go into 2022 and 24. On our other podcast, last week, we talked with Michael Cohen, Donald Trump's former personal attorney, very well known now, a graduate of Cooley Law School, which is kind of cool here in Lansing. I don't know if it's good or bad for Cooley, but he in fact, is one of their most prominent graduates. And he's pretty well convinced that Donald Trump is going to be indicted on multiple felonies pretty quickly, either by the State of New York or by the Department of Justice or both. What happens then certainly Donald Trump, I don't think he'd be convicted before the 22 election because he's very good at dragging things out legally. But just having him under indictment, how does that cut? Well, it just motivate the the Trump wing of the party even more saying he is being victimized by the deep state, or will it tarnish him enough amongst the soft Trump supporters and the more moderate Republicans to either shut out the election or even vote for the other side? no way to predict that, but of course, we've never faced that possibility in the past.
Christine Barry 44:07
Well, Trump is interesting in that he attracted a lot of people in to vote for him. And these are people who hadn't voted before because they thought both parties were the same. They would never get any, you know, anything out of voting, and they really felt like Trump was going to be there for them. I don't know how they fell for that. But they genuinely believe that if he is under indictment, if if there are, you know, these really negative things going on around him. I don't know how that affects them. If I mean, we've we saw I saw an interview with one guy who said that he just wasn't going to vote again with without Trump on the ticket. So if there are enough of those voters, then yeah, I think there will be a big impact. But it's it's just so hard to say so many of these people have been convinced that the election was stolen, that people are picking on Trump that everything's a fraud that America is in danger. So those people are going to be motivated to vote no, no matter what.
Walt Sorg 45:10
Ok let's we move on to another issue that doesn't get discussed enough, really, and that is mental health. Mental health is a big problem in this country and in this state, and we hardly ever discuss it in terms of government policy in Lansing right now, behind the scenes work continues amongst Republicans, led by your buddy, Senate Majority Leader Mike shirkey, to turn Michigan's multibillion dollar mental health treatment system over to private insurance companies. His contention is familiar from any debate on privatizing government services, better service lower costs, of course, that's been disproven many times. Does the argument work? In this case, though? It's a question I posed recently to someone who would know former state mental health director Tom Watkins.
Walt Sorg 45:55
Tom Watkins, it's always a pleasure to welcome you to the Policast. Today you put on the one of the many hats that you wear, and that is the former director of mental health in the state of Michigan. What do you make of this proposal allegedly coming into the Senate Majority Leader Mike shirkey.
Tom Watkins 46:11
Well, what is being discussed and it's been around for a long time, it's shifting $3 billion of our tax money from the public mental health system. Remember, this was started under President Kennedy are the last pieces of legislation he signed in 1963 was the Community Mental Health Act of 1963. To provide care for seven the most vulnerable people in our state 300,000 people rely on the public mental health system. And what Majority Leader Shirky is talking about doing is shifting that $3 billion to the health plans, also known as insurance companies. Right now we have public oversight, transparency, but there's a push to transfer those dollars to the health plans, insurance companies. I call it not the privatization of public mental health. But profitization of the nation of the public mental health system. And I think this would be a real disservice to our fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, sons and daughters, who rely on the quality public mental health system that's transparent. And people can go to their local community mental health board, when things aren't going right. That's certainly not going to happen under a private profit eyes system.
Walt Sorg 47:33
Correct me if I'm wrong, but this sounds strangely similar to what's happened with our state provided VA care in the state of Michigan, which is privatized, and also for department of corrections, which privatized some of its services, most notably, the food services, and in both cases, lower cost to the state meant decreased quality of service.
Tom Watkins 47:57
Well, the bottom line is, I think you're absolutely right, what is the only way you are going to lower the cost is to deny service, I mean, any of us who've had insurance, whether it's car insurance, or homeowners insurance, and like, it's usually in a system that's set up to benefit the consumer, the way that you can maximize your profits or to lower your cost. And the way that you do that, in a very labor intensive Service Delivery System, serving people with serious mental illness, people with substance use disorder, children with emotional difficulties, people with intellectual and developmental disabilities is to deny service or reduce the level of service. You know, think about it for a moment while many Congress passed Medicare and Medicaid that they have in mind that we wanted insurance companies and shareholders to make billions of dollars off the years my tax dollar, or were the system set up to make sure that persons that are elderly, persons with disabilities got high level decent care, so that we didn't end and end up like Bangladesh where people are dying on the streets. In the light, I don't believe that there was ever a desire to profitize, our public service to some of the most vulnerable people.
Walt Sorg 49:30
It seems like part of the problem is a long standing reluctance on the part of many to deal with mental health in the at the same level as they deal with physical health. The debate goes all goes back to the 1970s even and the mental health system has been kind of caught in a vice ever since.
Tom Watkins 49:48
Now it has and again, the argument will be made that this is a move to integrate care, and I'm all for integrating care because we can't separate Our head from our shoulders our mind from the rest of our body. So having integrated care certainly makes sense. So does public oversight, accountability, transparency, this bill that was just reported there was an article, I think of Monday's those past Monday's detroit news, which talks about it. The memo was marked confidential. Now, how in the world do you have a piece of legislation that's going to move $3 billion, from public side to the private side, and it's confidential, to the state, to the citizens of the state? When things are done, and the dark of the night and Lansing, no good comes from that.
Walt Sorg 50:43
Another way, if you really want to focus on integrated care that I would think would work, and also keep the lower the cost would be something that I think Bernie Sanders calls Medicare for All.
Tom Watkins 50:56
It certainly would be and you know, the argument that people say when when the insurance companies say, Well, you know, we're doing this for integrated care, and I said, Fine, let's integrate the physical health care under the public model. Because his Bob Sheehan runs the Community Mental Health Association, representing all the community based programs will tell you that the public side does it at a lower administrative cost than the private side,
Walt Sorg 51:24
which is really good.
Tom Watkins 51:28
To give you an example, when I was running the Detroit Wayne men office authority, the largest community based program here in the state, we were able to, through efficiencies, free up 10s of millions of dollars. And what we did that didn't go into to my salary, my salary stayed the same. We invested that providing $2 an hour increase for the direct care staff, caring for people in group homes throughout the state. It was, I believe, a $20 million shift by being efficient, effective in the way that we did. We consolidated to substance use agencies, and that save $4 million that didn't go out as dividends to shareholders, it went back as dividends to services to people that are struggling with opioid addiction and substance abuse problems. So there's ways where any savings in the system, and we always need to enhance and improve any system of care, but it should be resorting to high quality care to the citizens, the taxpayers of the state, not making insurance companies, wealthy.
Walt Sorg 52:41
Senator Shirky argues that most of the services being provided now through the state are actually privatized already, through private entities that manage contracts on behalf of the State. How would you respond to that contention?
Tom Watkins 52:52
I don't disagree. I mean, we have a lot of very high quality private nonprofit corporations. So this is not an issue of privatization. The issue is appropriate level of public oversight, transparency, and making sure that if you have a problem, as an example Walt, with your local services that somebody you'd love wasn't getting the care in the Lansing Community, you can show up at the local community health board, and let your concerns be known. Can you imagine getting past the security guard at a health insurance company to raise your concerns? No, you're not going to, you're not going to get in the elevator to the yellow to the executive suite. There needs to be a level of public oversight and transparency and the expenditure of $3 billion of our tax money, follow the money lobby core, and the contributions from the insurance companies to one particular political party are pretty self evident. $3 billion is at stake. There's been a push a desire to capture these dollars for a decade or longer. People that are concerned about high quality care, to their loved ones ought to be reaching out to their legislators, the governor, people in the Department of Health and Human Services, and let their voice be heard
Walt Sorg 54:19
how many people are in need of high levels of mental health services?
Tom Watkins 54:24
Well, there's over 300,000 people that receive care today. These are people with serious mental illness, schizophrenia, bipolar disorders, manic depression, depression, people with substance use disorders which have gone up under this pandemic, children with emotional difficulties, children with autism and people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. So it's serving some of the most vulnerable people. people ought to be very clear that these changes could impact the level of care. The governor and the legislature ought to Hit a pause button on this legislation, we can always find ways to do things better. This is not the way to do so.
Walt Sorg 55:08
Tom Watkins, thanksso much for shedding some light on something that most of us don't understand. And that's our mental health system. Thank you as well for your service to state government as director of mental health. I know it's a thankless job, and you did it well. Well, I
Tom Watkins 55:24
Well I had a tremendous mentor. And that's it that isn't see Patrick Babcock, God rest his soul, a decent good man that taught me more than I could ever ask from anyone.
Christine Barry 55:36
well, our thanks to Tom Watkins for his insight into an issue that is probably one of the most under discussed in all of state government. And it really needs attention. And I'm going to just quickly say this when I was on the board of The ARC Shiawassee, we were talking about all these problems that we had with mental health policy. And I thought more people were talking about it. And no, it turns out, it's really only openly discussed in circles, like The ARC or Community Mental Health or places where it's their job to discuss it.
Walt Sorg 56:12
That's probably the only upside of PTSD. All of these people coming back from the wars. All these veterans who are suffering severe mental impacts of PTSD as a result of their participation has elevated the discussion, at least a little bit to the point where people no longer look at it as a personal flaw, but as a disease and something that needs to be dealt with.
Christine Barry 56:35
And hopefully, since there is some much open conversation about the mental effects of the COVID, the pandemic trauma on the nation, that will move the discussion forward as well. All right, you want to do some quick political notes?
Walt Sorg 56:50
Well let's try to keep them quick. We're running long.
Christine Barry 56:53
All right. Well, let's talk about the worker shortage. This is something we talked about a couple of weeks ago, that in order to collect unemployment in Michigan, you have to demonstrate that you are actively seeking work during the time that you're employed. Now, there may be certain exceptions, but that's the general rule. That rule was suspended last year in March as part of our COVID response, because you didn't want people who are unemployed due to public health orders to violate public health orders to search for work. So now the Whitmer administration is saying, you know, we're seeing lower numbers of unemployment, and businesses are having a hard time finding workers. So that rule is going to be restored. They're planning to restore it by the end of the month. details in the show notes.
Walt Sorg 57:37
Okay, the gubernatorial race for 2022. It is still in limbo for the republicans, obviously, Gretchen Whitmer will be the candidate for the Democrats. But increasingly, Republicans are beginning to coalesce behind somebody with no political experience at all, James Craig, the just retired police chief of the city of Detroit. In some ways, I think it's kind of offensive because they really don't know what he stands for. They just know that he's a cop, that he's a law and order guy, that he's pro gun. And he's an African American in the city of Detroit. And that's the package they're looking for. It's more of those kind of celebrity politics, the same sort of thing that has Donald Trump and dirt endorsing former Heisman Trophy winner Herschel Walker to be the United States senator from the state of Georgia. Herschel Walker doesn't even live in Georgia. He lives in Texas. But he was at the University of Georgia and was kind of a local hero when he won the Heisman Trophy. And they're doing the same thing in Michigan. We do have some polling though, on the the possibilities. It was done. It was commissioned by MIRS, the Michigan information and Research Service. And they did it along with Target Insyght. And they found the James Craig only trails Gretchen Whitmer by six points at this point in the pre campaign 48 to 42. And that he is in fact a stronger candidate at this point than our friend john James, the perpetual candidate, the same polling by MIRS showed that there was a 10 point spread there 49-39. Yet in a primary, they found that in a matchup between the two of them that in fact, James was more popular amongst republicans for the nomination than Craig was Where's I've lost that number now.
Christine Barry 59:28
36 to 21, with 42%. undecided
Walt Sorg 59:32
that could very well though be an indication of name identification at this point. It's a long ways out. And if the party coalesces behind Craig, and I think what will happen is john James will ultimately end up endorsing him and run for congress against Haley Stevens, or possibly somebody else depending on how the district shape out after redistricting. John James has got a much better chance of winning a congressional race than he does statewide after losing two in a row. One person Who's been watching this real closely is Mark Brewer, the former 18 year Chair of the Michigan Democratic Party. And he kind of concurs with me that the republicans are really more interested right now, in the image of James Craig than the substance of James Craig.
Mark Brewer 1:00:17
I think the republicans thinking they can try to slice off democratic supporters i think is now part of their calculus didn't work back in the 80s for Lucas and it didn't work most recently for john James, either. I think that's a recent example of somebody with a strong resume, right? businessman, military background, everything. And even though Frankly, I said this before, I think Gary Peters did not run a strong campaign. And back in 2018, Debbie Stabenow didn't lay a glove on James intentionally, but still he lost. He lost.
Walt Sorg 1:00:51
former republican strategist and one time executive director of the state Republican Party, Jeff Timmer said that another problem for Craig as he navigates the political waters for the first time is Donald Trump. In the primary he has to embrace him. And in the general he has to stand apart from him. Trump giveth and Trump taketh away.
Jeff Timmer 1:01:11
And I look back to 2018 when there was a very skilled and capable politician and Bill Schuette, who found it difficult to navigate first the primary by demonstrating the necessary fealty in bended knee to Trump and then was completely iand totally incapable of shifting and pivoting because of that. It made him unelectable in November and I don't know why you anybody would look at the the situation now and think, okay, we were gonna have a candidate who, on the night of his retirement from the Detroit Police Department goes happens to just you know, go on fox news and NewsMax and OAN, to do the kind of the gauntlet of batshit news to talk about, you know, the state of the republican party today and start to set himself up to win a republican primary, Craig is going to be positioned just as much as a Trump candidate in when he emerges from the primary if he emerges from the primary in next August in August, the 2022, as Bill Schuette was, but Craig has no demonstrated ability so far, to then somehow expand his reach and attractiveness in a way that Schuette never could.
Walt Sorg 1:02:26
Brewer and Timur spoke on their podcast to Republic if you can keep it. And it was an interesting episode, their their guest was, as I mentioned before, Michael Cohen, President Trump's former attorney, their guests this Wednesday, by the way, will be a co founder of the never Trump band of Republicans, the Lincoln project, Steve Schmidt, one time senior adviser to the John McCcain presidential campaign, and also a top advisor in the campaign's of George W. Bush, and California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger should be another fascinating episode.
Christine Barry 1:02:57
Yeah, you know, one thing I would add about James Craig, is that he does go out and do those national shows, I guess, on Fox,
Walt Sorg 1:03:06
just like john James does,
Christine Barry 1:03:08
yeah. Right. Right. And, but he, I don't know about him withstanding a statewide vetting a statewide campaign. You know, john James, was so unknown when he started his political efforts, that he was able to tell his own story and brand himself in the way that he wanted. That brand stuck with him. Craig has a record he's known in Detroit. And so however he wants to brand himself, there will be legitimate attacks against that branding, as he goes forward. And I'm not sure how well he will do in that, especially in a Republican primary. So but so he gets beyond the primary, you know, I just don't know how well he does in the general.
Walt Sorg 1:03:55
Moving on to the next addition to Curtis Hertel's batshit crazy Bingo. We've got a bill about fact checkers being fact checked. Christine,
Christine Barry 1:04:05
this is beautiful. I mean, this is the gold standard state representative Matt Maddock is putting fact checkers on notice by proposing the Fact Checker Registration Act. This would require certain fact checkers to register with the Secretary of State and carry a $1 million fidelity bond. The Act will allow a person to sue a fact checker for violations of the Act. A fact checker is just is defined as someone who is paid by a fact checking organization is a member of the International fact checking network and who publishes content in Michigan and presents himself as the fact checker. Critics say that this is an affront to the First Amendment. But Matt mattock says that Snopes destroys lives. I don't know about you Walt, but I don't think it's a coincidence that Maddock and his wife other Maddock are are both well known liars who have been called out time after time about their lies about Trump and really just everything. So this should be fun details in the show notes on the co sponsors and the status of the bill, which he actually did put out there. It's insane.
Walt Sorg 1:05:18
These are the same people that decry censorship of conservatives, by Facebook and Twitter, which of course is bullshit to begin with. They actually are very conservative platforms for the most Twitter's more is more progressive dominated. But Facebook is totally dominated by conservatives, of virtually all of the top posts are from the hard right wing, but they decry that kind of censorship, but they're all in favor of censoring, I guess, The Washington Post fact checker, and PolitiFact and things like that. So here we go. Again, it's batshit crazy week after week. Speaking of which, something you wouldn't expect our friend Mark Brewer, who was on just a few moments ago. The longtime democrat is suing the Attorney General Dana Nessel. Not necessarily very happy about that, but it's over an issue that has plagued democrats for a long time and 2018 worker advocacy groups gathered enough signatures to put several citizen initiated ballot proposals on the November ballot. However, according to law before they went on the ballot, the legislature had the right to make them law immediately, which is exactly what they did. But then after the election, they turned right around and gutted the same laws would basically reversed the impact of them. It's called approve and then amend and a request was made to the Attorney General and whether this flew in the face of Michigan's constitution, and was therefore invalid act by the legislature to amend those initiatives. And Dana Nessel ruled that is disgusting as it was it was legal. I'll mark Brewer is going to court to have that decision overturned. I think deep down Dana Nessel hoping against hope that she loses this case.
Christine Barry 1:06:58
Adapting is one thing you know, you kind of understand that rather than put it on the ballot, you can adopt it if it gets enough signatures. I can I guess, I don't really know. But the amending is always done in lame duck
Walt Sorg 1:07:09
Christine Barry 1:07:09
It's just sleazy by nature. So and speaking of sleaze Ruth Johnson everyday with this woman, the senator who was the secretary of state at one time says that over half of Michiganders do not believe that our elections can be trusted. And that although she is not saying that there was widespread fraud, or that the fraud that was not there would have changed the outcome. Still, the elections weren't perfect. You know, it is imperative that we pass all these laws to make the elections better. And with less voters, I guess would be a benefit. But what she should have said was that over half of Michigan republicans do not trust the elections, because the Detroit News poll found that 56% of Republicans believe there was widespread fraud, but that 63% of all Michiganders said that the presidential elections were fair. And again, we'll have details in the show notes. And again, a Republican, you know, not being truthful about the elections,
Walt Sorg 1:08:14
and just fanning the flames of distrust in our whole process, which I think is going to bite him in the butt eventually, when people don't trust elections, they don't vote. While the people who don't trust the elections are Republican. So live with it Republicans. in Lansing, we've got something interesting going on, which could have an impact on the entire state. Our city council is on the verge of putting on the ballot in November, a referendum on whether the charter should be amended to allow rank choice voting or what's also known as instant runoff elections for future city elections. And this is the kind of thing that has been tried in a few jurisdictions around the country, including the entire state of Maine, and is generally pretty popular right? choice voting really simply is saying, This is my first choice. And if my first choice doesn't make the cut, here's my second choice. And they keep going through those iterations, you can have pick as many as you want. And they don't stop until they have a candidate who has the support of more than half the voters. Now in some states, they have runoff elections, now they'll have a primary and then the top two will run off. If nobody got more than 50% of the vote. This would take that process and make it all happen on one day instead of two. It also has the advantage of eliminating an election, the August primary for the city and having all the voting done in November, which is a much higher turnout election, especially for municipal elections. So it's got a good chance of passing in Lansing. And if it passes in Lansing, it gets a lot of visibility and could very well impact whether or not we see it more and more around the state. Or in fact we see it for statewide elections as well.
Christine Barry 1:09:50
And I would love to see shiawassee County explore or something like that because I do think that we would get a lot more people involved in local office. And even though some of those people would libertarians as far as I know, we've only ever actually elected one who was out and out libertarian, you know, but I think we would get more of that we'd get more people in non affiliated I think it would be. I think it would be interesting, and I think it's democratic. So I'd be happy to see that. And we will wrap up this week with a sampling from two musical interludes produced by two of our favorites. First up the Divine Miss M, who offers a new tribute to the new Republican Party,
while he bobbins Why does the GOP want to stop minorities from voting?
Gretchen Whitmer 1:10:33
Because they know minorities won't vote for them?
Is that why papaw called Tucker Carlson a stupid dickhead
Bette Midler 1:10:39
young man you know, you're forbidden to use those words Tucker and Carlson. What may we say when my frustrated with Republican leadership Molly Bobbins? Well, there is one, but it's very long and difficult to pronounce. Perhaps you've seen it? It's It's g o p is a cult for scammers. liars, thugs, and traitors, old and rich and mostly male good Christian loving hate as Moscow Mitch and Cancun Ted and all their imitators, plus Matt Gaetz the Norman Bates of liars thugs and traitors.
Christine Barry 1:11:15
And our absolute favorite political satirist Randy Rainbow is added again with his tribute to Josh Hawley.
Randy Rainbow 1:11:24
All the crackpot villains in the GOP only care to cover their ads since the last election caused an insurrection they've lost their goddamn minds permit. They're far fetched fairy tales and heartless games and their lack of dignity and polis. They blabber and spout and they all tend to shout so I tried to block out their noise. clang clang, clang went Josh Hawley yap yap yap went Ted Cruz crap crap crap when McCarthy cuz his party continues to lose.
Christine Barry 1:12:08
and on that happy note, we're gonna call it a day. You can find links to the songs lots of other things on our website, www.Michiganpolicast.com. And while you're wandering around the internet, please take a moment to rate the podcast on iTunes so that their secret algorithm can do its thing with our rankings.
Walt Sorg 1:12:27
And make sure you subscribe to our sister podcast a republic if you can keep it with longtime Michigan political insiders Jeff Timmer and Mark Brewer. As previously noted their guests this week will be one time John McCain campaign manager Steve Schmidt, who infamously is the man who gave us Sarah Palin, but made amends by co founding the Lincoln Project. You can find their podcast wherever you get your podcasts.
Christine Barry 1:12:50
And with that, we're done. Thanks so much for listening, and we'll see you next week.
The Michigan Policast with Walt Sorg and Christine Barry is a production of Michigan citizens for a better tomorrow.