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Opinion

senatedems.com/bieda/photos/

State Senator Steve Bieda is perhaps the biggest history buff in the Michigan legislature. He’s an expert on coins, once designed one for the mint, and fought to get new replicas of Civil War cannons installed on the lawn, and to get the Capitol restored.

After last week’s Democratic Party “endorsement convention,” there is a distinct probability that three of their candidates for the top four statewide offices will be white women.  Strong, accomplished, politically sophisticated women.

But much of the reaction to that has shown that misogyny is not dead, and that some people are fixated on quotas that have too often given us candidates who were symbolic tokens.

Daniel Howes / Detroit News

The Chinese say they’re willing to change the rules that protect their precious auto industry. That’d be the industry companies like General Motors have spent a generation building with Chinese partners because, over there, he who controls the government rules.

John Engler at the final MSU Board of Trustees meeting of the 2017/18 school year.
Kate Wells / Michigan Radio NPR

Whether you liked his policies or not, there’s no doubt John Engler was an enormously effective governor a quarter-century ago. He knew the Legislature and how it worked.

He also knew virtually all of its members personally – their strengths, their weaknesses, what they wanted and needed. That was partly because he’d spent 20 years in the state house and senate before being elected governor in a tremendous upset in 1990.

That reputation for getting things done is why Michigan State trustees chose Engler as their interim president at the end of January. 

John Auchter / Michigan Radio

The second best advice I ever gave my kids was "Remember to do the things you're supposed to do and don't do the things you're not supposed to do." Pretty sound, right? Covers the bases, for them and for me. Of course, it helped they all had (and still have) really good moral compasses.

 

But the best advice I gave them was this: "Don't stake the success of any relationship on your intention to change the other person — you can't 'fix' people, so don't try to fix them."

 

The Michigan legislature is unwilling to properly fix the roads or repair the rest of our crumbling infrastructure. But there is something they are eager to do: Make life more difficult for poor people who qualify for Medicaid under the Healthy Michigan plan. 

Asian Carp
Kate Gardiner / Flickr - http://bit.ly/1rFrzRK

I woke up this morning thinking about Asian carp.

I’d noticed that our state Senate spent much of yesterday doing things like voting to cut funding for those trying to get off Medicaid.

Meanwhile, despite the fact that many urban areas like Ann Arbor are overrun with white-tailed deer, the state House was voting to outlaw sterilizing them. I can’t imagine why anyone would say that our lawmakers don’t have their priorities straight.

Whenever you think things couldn’t possibly get worse for Michigan State, they do. Just after the team doctor turned sexual predator went off to prison, disaster struck again.

William Strampel, his former boss and the former dean of the College of Osteopathic Medicine, was arrested and charged with various things, including criminal sexual misconduct of his own. That case has yet to work its way through the courts, but is going to be anything but helpful to MSU’s attempts to heal itself and stay solvent.

Dana Nessel, wearing blue, speaks into a microphone.
Cheyna Roth / MPRN

In ancient times, say, four years ago, Patrick Miles would have had no trouble winning the Democratic Party nomination for attorney general.

After all, the former federal prosecutor had the endorsement of the UAW, and that’s all it used to take. “The UAW doesn’t lose,” longtime expert observer Bill Ballenger said.

Not until now, anyway. The party’s old bulls were behind Miles.

Daniel Howes / Detroit News

Now we know why Michigan State’s interim president, John Engler, tapped an ol’ Republican hand to head government relations at the school. He understands politics well enough to know they’ll need the help.

And the politics surrounding the aftershocks of the Larry Nassar sexual-abuse scandal are very simple: someone must pay.

For the assaults on hundreds of women under the guise of sports medicine. For the lawsuits that followed. For the dreadful management inside State’s vaunted athletic department and the office of former president Lou Anna Simon.

Michigan State Spartans
Emma Winowiecki / Michigan Radio

You might think the worst was now over for Michigan State. Larry Nassar is in prison, presumably for life. The university president who failed to get control of the scandal has been driven out of office, and one of the most powerful political figures in Michigan history is in charge of cleaning up the mess and moving on.

a cartoon of Governor Rick Snyder endorsing Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley
John Auchter / Michigan Radio

I don't blame politicians for avoiding the "politician" label. Politician, after all, is a dirty word. They are all rotten, lying, cheating, crummy, crooked politicians, right? Well... maybe not all. In this representative form of government, we all profess to love so much, good politicians are critical to its success. Good politicians are advocates of the people. They listen, they understand, they form a consensus, and then they lead.

 

Screen showing Line 5 on the bottom of the Straits of Mackinac.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

I am not exactly a violent person. Nobody has ever confused me with Norman Mailer. But someday, I may be sitting at a press conference after the twin pipelines under the straits of Mackinac rupture, and 700 miles of shoreline are contaminated and ruined.

And if a politician, or some spokesman for a politician, then says they didn’t have sufficient warning, I cannot guarantee I’d be responsible for my actions.

Apart from school board seats and state Supreme Court judges, there are only four Michigan officeholders elected statewide: governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, and attorney general. We choose major party candidates for governor in the August 7 primary.

That is, if we bother to vote, which most of us don’t. Whoever wins the gubernatorial nomination gets to choose a lieutenant governor, so we have no say there.

That leaves secretary of state and attorney general. When you think of it, for most of us, the secretary of state may be the most important position. 

Tracy Samilton / Michigan Radio

The Michigan Supreme Court will hear oral arguments tomorrow in what seems certain to be the highest-profile case it will hear this year.

The question is whether the state’s public schools can, regardless of what the legislature says, outlaw or otherwise restrict guns in schools. Currently, state law allows someone with a concealed pistol permit to enter a school with an openly holstered gun.

I don’t read a lot of blogs and bloggers, partly because I don’t have the time and partly because in many cases, I know what they are going to say before they say it.

But one I do read regularly is Chad Selweski’s commentary Politically Speaking, at PoliticsCentral.org. His motto is “a country that loses its values, its principles, has lost its heart. A country that loses its sensible center, its common ground, has lost its mind.”

Stateside 4.6.2018

Apr 7, 2018

Today on Stateside, we talk with our regular commentators about Nestle getting a new water withdrawal permit despite public opposition. and we talk to an artisan who tells us about the finer points of ice fishing rods.

Daniel Howes / Detroit News

President Donald Trump’s relationship with Detroit’s auto industry is complicated. Look at the past week.

On Monday, Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency said that it would consider easing Obama-era fuel economy standards. For an industry selling more and more pickups and SUVs, that’s exactly what automakers, foreign and domestic, wanted to hear.

Elissa Slotkin
Cheyna Roth / MPRN

Elissa Slotkin was twenty-five and in her second day of graduate school in New York City the day the planes slammed into the towers, and, her life, like so many others, was changed.

“I felt I had to do something in service to my country,” she said. That led to the Central Intelligence Agency and three tours of duty in Iraq, where she served with the soldiers and eventually married Colonel Dave Moore, an Apache helicopter pilot.

Coach John Beilein | Michigan Wolverines Men's Basketball. You can lose a game and still be a victor
John Auchter

I saw an interview with John Beilein after the Michigan loss to Villanova in the men's NCAA championship game on Monday. It was a fairly standard "what went wrong, what would you do differently, how do you feel about it?" sort of exercise, which Coach Beilein handled graciously. But when the interviewer asked Beilein about his team, he visibly brightened.

 

The MDEQ's Bay City Business Center
Michigan Department of Environmental Quality

There’s little doubt that the most appalling part of the Snyder administration has been the laughably misnamed Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.

You have to give the MDEQ this: It never misses an opportunity to show that it doesn’t care about the environment, or what the citizens of Michigan think, unless they happen to be executives of large corporations.

profile shot of Gretchen Whitmer
Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, University of Michigan / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Four years ago, I went to see Mark Schauer, then the Democratic nominee for governor. He had rightly criticized the Republicans for letting the roads fall apart, and vowed to fix them.

But when I asked how he was going to get the money for that, he really didn’t have an answer. My guess was that he didn’t want to risk losing votes by saying he was going to raise taxes. I left wondering if he deserved to win.

RNC Chair Ronna Romney McDaniel holding a microphone
www.migop.org

George Romney was only governor of Michigan for six years, but he was one of the most important figures in our modern political history. He was the moving force behind our current State constitution. He had the brains to recognize that a modern industrial state needed a state income tax, and the guts to fight to get one enacted.

I was struck by something buried in an article in the Sunday New York Times that began by noting that students who go to Princeton often marry each other.

Elites, in other words, tend to marry elites.

This was not exactly a world-shaking revelation. People have always tended to marry people they grow up with, work with and live among, and despite the movies, of pretty much the same socio-economic and,
increasingly, educational status.

Daniel Howes / Detroit News

The Detroit auto show isn’t dead.

It just feels that way.

The latest casualties are the princes of the German auto industry. First Mercedes-Benz won’t be attending next year’s auto show. Neither will its Bavarian brother, BMW.

Bets on how long until Audi follows, if only to prove parity with the other two? Sooner rather than later, unless that Volkswagen luxury brand sees opportunity staying with Detroit.

Comerica Park
Kevin Ward / FLICKR - http://bit.ly/1f2P1w6

Yesterday was supposed to be the Detroit Tigers’ opening game, except that it was rained out. Well, of course it was. This is March in Michigan and trying to play baseball here and now is an abomination unto the Lord.

John Auchter / Michigan Radio

Among the many things to admire about the youth who led the March for Our Lives events this past week is their patriotism. That may sound a little off because their detractors have gone to some lengths to question that very thing.

I had an intensely painful lunch earlier this week with a woman who is a mid-level executive of one of the auto companies. She used to be concerned about the future of the auto industry. She is also deeply religious, and is appalled by what was going on in Washington.

Appalled in theory, that is. In reality, she no longer cares. For her, life as she knew it has been destroyed by a growing epidemic you may never have heard about.

Dr. William Strampel
Michigan State University

In a way, the news that the longtime dean of Michigan State University’s College of Osteopathic Medicine has been charged with criminal sexual conduct may be even worse than the revelations about Larry Nassar. MSU’s line all along has been that Nassar, the former sports medicine doctor who molested hundreds of women, was an anomaly.

One of my morning rituals is that after I have written for a while, I wake up my Australian Shepherd and we engage in a vigorous game of tug of war while I watch the headlines on CNN.

When I did this yesterday, the screen was filled with Anderson Cooper, one of the best interviewers in journalism today, with an excerpt from his interview the night before of a porn star. He was asking her whether her most famous contact had used a condom during their sexual encounter, and as she said no, I turned the TV off.

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