Podcast — September 4, 2018 at 6:51 am

The most important place for democracy – with special guest Michigan Supreme Court candidate & civil rights lawyer Sam Bagenstos


Donald Trump is the God’s way of teaching us the importance of down-ballot races.

For about half a century, the right has been manufacturing an assault at every layer of government, from the lowest state house to the highest court. And the successes over the last few decades have largely gone unnoticed despite their raging successes. They were so successful that despite only winning the popular vote once since 1992, the Supreme Court is about to become more right-wing that has been since before World War II.

But it was on the local level they tested and prove their model of using every possible lever of power. Even before Michigan became a testing ground for using the Great Recession to liquidate and poison whole cities, the “conservatives built a testing ground for many of their most radical ideas” in Michigan’s State Supreme Court, Think Progress’ Ian Millhiser wrote.

The peril progress faces in this Trump era has brought Sam Bagenstos into the arena. He’s currently a law professor at the University of Michigan and one of the nation’s leading civil rights’ lawyers. Before that he was Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the United States Department of Justice Civil Rights Division.

We’re thrilled to have a chance to vote for him November and to bring you this interview today.

Ian Millhiser at Think Progress: One of America’s top civil rights lawyers launches bid for state supreme court. Oh, and he clerked for Ginsburg too.

Sam Bagenstos online: BagenstosForJustice

Sam Bagenstos on Twitter: @Bagenstos4MI and @SBagen.

Support Sam’s campaign HERE:

The Good– Michigan Republicans are now using OUR language and OUR framing

Last week we talked to Gil Duran from FrameLab who told us (a) not to use our opponents’ frames and language and (b) you’ll know you’re winning when your opponents are using YOURS. Now we have evidence that, with regard to the Resistance movement, we ARE winning and our opponents are using OUR frame and language.

Michigan Republicans are using a new tagline: “Results Not Resistance”. What is likely intended to insult members of the Resistance movement invites us to have a look at what Republicans have achieved over the past 8 years of control:

  • The poisoning of an entire city through the Republican policy of austerity and displacement of local, democratic control.
  • The decimation of the school system in our state’s biggest city, Detroit.
  • The increased wealth of the already-wealthy while wages have remained stagnant. (Low unemployment rates don’t fix unsustainable wage disparities.)
  • The collapse of our roads, bridges, and other infrastructure.
  • The repeated attempts to disenfranchise voters through voter suppression efforts.
  • The kneecapping of workers through the destruction of collective bargaining and the labor unions that fight for those workers.
  • The opposition to marriage equality using our tax dollars.
  • The endless attacks on affordable healthcare for our most vulnerable citizens.
  • The rampant corruption and self-dealing from members of the Republican administration of Rick Snyder.
  • Headlines like this one: “More than half of Michigan students failed M-STEP literacy exam“.

The Republicans used the tagline in a giant mainstage graphic at their recent statewide convention, Bill Schuette is touring the state in a giant bus with the tagline painted large on the side, and they are even selling t-shirts.

Meanwhile, Democratic candidate for Governor, Gretchen Whitmer, is crushing her opponent Bill Schuette. Real Clear Politics gives Whitmer a 9-point edge.

The Bad — Kavanaugh train is rolling and Democrats don’t seem to know what to do.

The Trump administration will hold back more than 100,000 pages of documents related to Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s service because the White House and the Department of Justice have determined they are protected by constitutional privilege, according to a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

All we can do is whip the vote:

The Shrugly ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ — Republicans could lose the popular vote and still keep control of Congress
Imagine this:

It’s almost midnight on November 6, 2018. California will still be counting ballots through December but the big result is already clear: Republican candidates won fewer votes than their Democratic opponents, but the GOP will keep control of the House of Representatives for two more years.

Donald Trump stays up tweeting until dawn. “The American people have vindicated me!” he’ll insist. “Mueller must go! Investigations into Hillary Clinton’s collusion must begin now!”

The GOP will agree. Much of the media will buy then sell the story. Losing the popular vote repeatedly yet holding unchecked power over all three branches of government is the new normal.

So how many fewer votes did GOP candidates receive?

Maybe it’s like 2012. That’s when the GOP kept its 33-seat majority in the House, though it’s candidates took in 1.5 million fewer votes. Or maybe it’s like 2016, when Trump lost the popular vote by 2.1 percent and became the biggest popular vote loser elected in 140 years. Or maybe their edge is two, three times or even five times Trump’s losing popular vote margin of 2.1 percentage points. A report from the Brennan Center for Justice released in March of 2018 projected the GOP could lose the popular vote by 10 percent—a far bigger deficit it lost by in 2006 when Democrats retook the House for the first time in twelve years—and keep the majority. Retirements and a new Congressional map in Pennsylvania have made the situation for Democrats a little better. Data scientist G. Elliott Morris’ noted on August 30th that his model finds that to take the House Democratic candidates need to win the popular vote by a mere 5.5 to 6 percentage points to have a chance to take the majority — or at least 4.6 times of their margin in 2012, which would be their largest popular vote victory since the massive wave election of 2008.

The chances that Democrats win the popular vote and don’t take the House are about 25 percent, about Trump’s chances of winning in 2016. And as G. Elliott also noted:

Progressives Everywhere‘s Candidate of the Week (via @JordanZakarin): Let’s win Win North Carolina! Support Anita Earls for State Supreme Court along with Natasha Marcus, Sam Searcy, and Mack Paul for state senate.

Make a donation to support senate Democrats in North Carolina HERE.

Flint Water Crisis
Nick Lyons is going stand trial for his role in the Flint Water Crisis. This is related to the spread of Legionnaires’ Disease, NOT the lead poisoning. From The Detroit Free Press:

The highest-ranking official to stand trial as a result of the scandal, Nick Lyon is accused of failing to issue a timely alert to the public about the outbreak.

Judge David Goggins said deaths likely could have been prevented if the outbreak had been publicly known and keeping the public in the dark was “corrupt.”

Also, we learned this week at the legal bills for defending government officials from lawsuits surrounding the Flint Water Crisis now tops $26.5 million and could go over $34 million. From Crain’s Detroit:

That number is only a small part of amount the state has spent on Flint water crisis-related legal bills. Through mid-August, the state had spent $26.5 million, while three state departments have current capacity in contracts to make that total top $34.5 million, according to public records compiled by Crain’s.

Lyon’s legal bills alone over three fiscal years exceed what Genesee County spends annually for defense attorneys who represent indigent residents.

The show notes for Episode 11 of The GOTMFV Show are at http://www.eclectablog.com/2018/09/the-most-important-place-for-democracy-with-special-guest-michigan-supreme-court-candidate-civil-rights-lawyer-sam-bagenstos.html

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Music clips
Intro and transition music: You Dress Like an Asshole by Not The 1s
Progressives Everywhere intro/outro: They’re Everywhere by Jim’s Big Ego
Flint Water Crisis Update intro: Unclaimed by Mike Wagner/Total Strangers
Outro music: Complain (from the movie Bob Roberts) by David Robbins & Tim Robbins