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Response to Reader-Listener-Viewer Mail.

What Our Audience Has to Say
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Editor’s Note: We hope you enjoy the video above. If you’d rather just listen to the podcast, click the button below to Apple Podcasts: The Common Bridge. It is also available on all other podcast platforms. We have included the transcript to this program below. We offer this program in it’s entirety to our paid subscribers, and welcome all to subscribe below.

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Richard Helppie  

Welcome to The Common Bridge. I'm here with our producer Brian "we'll clean it up and post" Kruger. He tells that to all the guests but rarely has to do that. Today might be different, though, because we're going to do a little mailbag. We get comments that are public and we get lots of private emails and messages and always happy to consider those. Look, we've got a great audience on The Common Bridge. Unlike most platforms, we have intelligent people. Now, people have their perspectives and their biases and that type of thing, but they're at least willing to listen and question; I find that one of the most interesting parts of doing this. I'm grateful for the Substack world and the real journalists, real writers over there because it potentially is the new media model which I think is one of the three legs we need to get out of this crazy morass we seem to be stuck in. Anyway, Brian, what do you have in...[laughter] the sinister smile...besides the sinister smile what have you got today? 

Brian Kruger  

First of all, Rich, let's get a few housekeeping items out of the way. We're on the cusp of spring training with the Tigers and we're also wiping our tears about the Lions not making the Super Bowl but it was still a great season.

Richard Helppie  

Really good. Well, don't forget, we also have the Red Wings potentially edging into the playoffs - they won again last night, overtime goal by Patrick Kane. But nobody wants to hear about sports, there are enough places for that.

Brian Kruger  

Well, they've got to hear about our Detroit teams too, that's where we're from so they're going to have to hear about that. But let's get going on with the mailbag. We love doing this. We try to do it four times a year and do some housecleaning and get back to our readers and our viewers and our listeners on The Common Bridge. So let's jump right in. This is from Mark from Orlando. “Rich, I read your real estate 101 piece. It was only one minute so I read it three times. I have to admit, I'm confused. You said Trump first put a low value on his properties and then a high price, then it seemed as though you were really criticizing the court ruling even before Kevin O'Leary of Shark Tank and others blasted it. But then you said Trump should not be President. So what was the case about? And do you like Trump or don't you like Trump?”

Richard Helppie  

Well, let me clear the easy part. Look, I don't believe Donald Trump acted like an adult when he was in the Oval Office. I think he behaved in a capricious manner. He was voted out of office and I know there are people that still, to this day, don't believe he was voted out of office. But clearly the Democrats did a way better job on turnout based on the new COVID rules. You can argue whether that was the right way to do things or not. He was like a petulant child leaving, instead of the gracious transfer of power, didn't greet the new president and so forth. He really needs to just retire from politics, and in a way he has because he doesn't show up for debates. He holds rallies to the faithful and apparently he's now selling sneakers and the like. But the court case is a travesty. What I did in that one minute read was to say, illiquid assets, you can create a value and defend it based on assumptions. The New York Times, several years ago, took apart Trump's inheritance and said, hey, wait a minute, it was way larger than Trump's reporting. I read the article, but they went out, they started with the endpoint, we want to show that it was worth more and they struggled and got there. The judge who's violated every principle of evenhanded justice - in the instance case here in New York - said I want to show a low value. He said it was fraud on the first day before he even heard one witness. If you read the actual ruling, it's ridiculous. For people that don't think it was, I would say this, tell them you'll buy their house today for whatever's on their tax bill, whatever their tax appraiser said their house was worth. You'll buy it today for cash. They'll go well, wait a minute, it's worth more. Of course it is. How much is it worth specifically today? We don't know because it's not for sale. So what this judge did unilaterally was assigned value and then, in this very sophisticated real estate transaction, extracted one element - the interest rate - ignored the fact that the bank has sophisticated appraisers and that they took the risk. The bank was not claiming any kind of fraud; it's up to the lender to do diligence. And indeed, when the documents were submitted, as done by the Trump organization, they say these are not to be relied upon because there are errors and there are omissions. It's an illiquid asset; anybody can come up with what they think is a value. And now every real estate developer is saying, hey, we can't do business in New York. The governor of New York came out and in a veiled way - not quite the way it's being reported on Right wing outlets - but she said, well, don't worry, it was just a thing we were doing for Trump. And so you can not like Trump and be alarmed that the justice system is being ripped to shreds in an attempt to get to him. We're not going to be left with anything if the justice system gets blown up. And if you're celebrating because, ha-ha, we got Trump...no, no, no, it got you. It got you because that's that justice system that's going to take care of you.

Brian Kruger  

Have you been able to find a crime or isolate a victim in that or not?

Richard Helppie  

Yeah, it's the American people who got this. This is going to get overturned and they're trying to...look, what it's done, there are people saying if we keep charging Trump with stuff that'll drive him from the race but all it does is make the Democrats look dirty and corrupt and scares people. On top of the censorship and on top of Biden's obvious failure in his mental capacity, now we're going to blow up the justice system? You know, why not just run against Trump and beat him?

Brian Kruger  

Right. And ironically, every time Trump gets dinged, his numbers go up ten percent in the polls.

Richard Helppie  

Because it scares people. It scares people so they say I can't vote for that thing that's going to blow up the justice system.

Brian Kruger  

All right, let's move on. This is from Eric in Yuma. I've been to Yuma. (Rich Helppie:  I've been too.) “When are you going to do a story about immigration? It seems the southern border is in chaos and there are national guards and federal law enforcement arrayed against each other. One side says, for many years, no problem and the other side says it is the problem. When can you get a debate on this topic?”

Richard Helppie  

Well, we have had one show on immigration from a legal perspective; the political situation is much different. We've gone through this arc now - during the Trump administration - attempting various maneuvers to secure the border and the opposition saying we're going to have a sanctuary city and let anybody come in, we're not going to enforce laws. Now, cities have been inundated, they're saying they can't handle the influx of immigrants. There has to be an orderly process. The administration said, well, we really want to but it's the Republicans who are blocking us because of Trump. I'm like, wait a minute, why not just enforce the laws from the sanctuary city? But anyway, it's a great idea. I would like anybody listening that wants to come on and talk about either side of this, it would be great. We've had - at least since the George W. Bush administration - proposal after proposal put up. Obama's and Bush's didn't look markedly different. Mitt Romney's view on this; most of us are children of immigrants anyway. People know what the formula is but both sides fund-raise off of the chaos. We don't know what the impact is. I think we need more people to come, we didn't make enough babies, right, and we need workforce to do things. This is not like any other immigrant group that came over before, they're bringing over military age men. People talk saying, well, my great grandfather came from Ireland - not mine, but people say that - and when he had found work then he sent for my grandmother - you stay there, I'll go get work. A couple years ago, I think this was still true. The number two revenue into Mexico was labor, people coming to work in the US and sending it into Mexico. Number one was oil. So let's deal with reality and make a reasonable plan. I know that wasn't the question, but yeah, we need to do a story on that.

Brian Kruger  

All right. This one's from the website. Carrie writes, “You've hit the existing media companies pretty hard. Is there a way out of this world of disinformation?”

Richard Helppie  

There is and it's this; everybody listening and reading or viewing this, you need to do a couple of things. Number one, quit consuming that stuff. You know where it's coming from. The thing that really baffles me is people that make a living spreading false information, like Barbara McQuade - who I've had on the show - who's really lost her way and who's made a living spewing falsehoods and now writes a book about disinformation. I'm thinking I should review the book. I should review it the way she and her cohorts reviewed Bill Barr's book on their podcast - which I tuned in for - they all were like no, no, no, we didn't even read the book. It's like, really, so your program, you purveyor of truth, you have less credibility than a seventh grader trying to fake their way through a book report. Anyway, I digress, but quit consuming it. When you get a story, I'd ask you to do two things. Number one, ask what's not being said, and number two, what's being not covered? They'll catch Joe Biden, with his mental misfires that the Justice Department put in their report, and the next thing you know, oh, we're going to arrest this FBI agent. It's like clockwork, look at your watch, here it comes. So don't let things go into the memory hole; talk with your friends. Get offline and talk with your friends or get online and come to Substack and have an adult conversation.

Brian Kruger  

All right. This one's from Substack. It's from Todd in Rangely, Colorado. “You live in Michigan, what do you think about the recent court cases that have inspired news coverage; the boy whose mother was convicted of manslaughter because he became a school shooter? How will this play out nationally?”

Richard Helppie  

Oh, there's a lot here. So first of all, condolences to everyone at Oxford, the Oxford community, no school children should have to deal with this; this should be a time of delight. I'm going to start with the first part, which is guns. In the state of Michigan, we just passed a safe storage law. Had this been law and had the parents followed it perhaps this tragedy would not have occurred. The other gun laws violated something called a straw purchase; that you're not allowed to buy a gun that is not for you. They clearly bought this for the kid. This also ties in things like mental health and it ties in parental responsibility and parental rights. Rights and responsibilities go hand in hand, and the court ruled...Prosecutor Karen McDonald, I think, did a solid job in getting responsibility from the parent. But I'm hearing from and reading about children in other states, where if the same age person, a troubled kid, comes in - if Ethan Crumbley would have gone into his school and said, my name's now Patrice and I'm going to wear a dress and carry a purse, don't tell my parents - I don't know if Michigan would have done this but certainly in Washington state, they couldn't do anything, and the parents not "affirming" him would result in potential removal the child from the home. So where do the parents rights and responsibilities end? We had Kevin Fischer on recently about mental health and, of course, we've had on other guests about mental health. We've got to figure out what is good mental health. At the same time this court case was going on in Oakland County, there was another case where a man moved out from his male partner - I don't know if they were married or not - and had sued him. The guy that was suing had had his testicles removed, had put them in a plastic bag in the freezer...I'm sure they were shriveled by that point...I don't mean...I shouldn't make light of this, but left them in the freezer and the guy that was in the house threw them out. He said hey, I put food in there, it's not sanitary. And I'm like, okay, in the not too distant past we would have said, hey, if you cut your nuts off and put them in a freezer, are you of good mental health? The judge in this case said the state of Michigan paid Henry Ford Health System $20,000 to remove the guy's testicles and he wanted $6,500 in compensation and the judge said - I don't know how the judge put the price on that by the way, didn't provide that information - the judge said that would be unjust enrichment. I guess that's a lesson, that if you think it's a sane move to remove healthy organs, and you think it's a sane move to a store them in a freezer in a baggie, apparently - for what, I don't know...Rocky Mountain oysters come to mind and Jeffrey Dahmer comes to mind - but I am losing...my audience is draining off right now. [Laughter.]  Anyway, the whole thing with the Crumbley case, parents rights, parents responsibilities, guns and safe gun storage, mental health, what does it look like? Look, I grew up in an era where kids were no different, kids pass through this period of life with different issues. But you had the school system, the juvenile justice system, civic organizations, neighbors, churches if they had one - and most people did at that point - and it was one objective, can we get behind this child, support this child so that that person becomes a balanced adult. Come on, this is what our society has done? It's because of the breakdown in the politics and in the media, Brian.

Brian Kruger  

Okay, we're going to stick with this theme. This is from Greg in Rochester, New York. “Rich, I've heard you talk about your graduated gun policy and on some levels, I agree. What I'd like to see though, is that we start that approval and graduation process at age 21 like we do with legal alcohol consumption in most states. Many states seem to think 16 year olds are more responsible with guns than they would be with alcohol. What are your thoughts on this?”

Richard Helppie  

Not a bad idea at all. Responsible gun owners, and that's basically most of them, they're going to be taught target shooting and hunting and defense, and they're going to do it responsibly to say that, hey, at a future time you can start acquiring your own weapons. I mean, that's a great idea that might tune that law up. I would do something because what we're doing now - nothing - isn't working. 

Brian Kruger  

Okay, we're going to stick with Michigan, and this is from Jeff in Higgins Lake. “Rich, I'm from Michigan. I think you're a Michigander too. I would like to see you do an episode about Governor Whitmer's proposal to move 75% of funds from the Michigan State Board of Education to a new Department of Lifelong Education Advancement and Potential. Also, the Detroit News reports that Whitmer wants to take $670 million from our teachers pension fund. Finally, Governor Whitmer's name comes up as a possible President someday. Do you think she'd be a good one?”

Richard Helppie  

Well, I think I'm a Michigander. I'm also a Michiganian too, I'm from the mitten. A lot wrapped up in there. First of all, three elements of this, Brian. One, under Governor Snyder the pension plan for teachers retirement and health care was carved aside, I think the number was approaching 700 million. The idea was, let's not strand the retirees if we have lean times, and in a manufacturing economy it goes up and it goes down. It's just the way things work. The governor wanted to tap those funds, send them an IOU and go spend it on other things, which would potentially put the state in distress. It doesn't appear at the moment like that's going to go through. This new agency, it kind of goes hand in hand with what we've seen this governor do. The Department of Education certainly could have been given the mission for lifelong learning, expanded that charter and accomplish the same ends. But with an opportunity to move from an elected Board of Education at the state to an agency run by political appointees of the governor, our governor chose the path that could lead to ruling by fiat and by executive order, and further politicize what should be a base thing for all citizens. Now, in terms of Governor Whitmer's viability for President, I would like to say this; I think that our governor got off to a great start when she was elected. She basically picked up where Rick Snyder left off. It was a beautiful first State of the State speech and I think she really meant it. I think she's a good person. She said, it doesn't matter, we're not going to be Republicans, Democrats, Independents, we're going to advance the interests of the state of Michigan. Then during COVID, Donald Trump called her "that woman from Michigan," every news outlet started getting sound bites from her and she got caught up in the partisanship. She knew she was going on to deliver an anti-Trump soundbite and I think she's been pulled into that vortex; as I've talked before about some of the things she did during COVID. She got carried away with the executive orders, didn't follow her own directives; really bad form. I'd like to see which Gretchen Whitmer emerges. Are we going to see that crazy partisan that we've seen, or are we going to get back to the reasonable and balanced Gretchen Whitmer? So you know where my heart is, I hope the governor does a great job, I hope she remembers what her job is. It's not advancing the interests of the Democratic National Committee, it's serving everybody in the state of Michigan.

Brian Kruger  

Okay. This is from Diane, she's in Seymour, Indiana. “Rich, love the show and loved hearing Democratic presidential candidate Dean Phillips twice on The Common Bridge. Do you think he should quit the Democratic party since they won't support him? Would he be a good No Labels candidate or do you think he should try to run on the Green or the Libertarian ticket?”

Richard Helppie  

It's kind of like which way is he going to not get elected to be President. The operative story here is that Mr. Phillips is clearly qualified to be the chief executive of the United States, whether you agree with every one of his policies or not he's run things, he's been in government, he's been critical of his own party, as well as the Republicans. He said we can't let Donald Trump back in the office. He said Joe Biden's just too old, time to turn the page. I'd vote for him if the choice was him or a lot of other Republicans. But the really interesting part, while 70% of voters still want something other than Trump or Biden, both sides have collapsed on Dean Phillips to try to extinguish his candidacy instead of saying, wait a minute, could this guy be a good chief executive of the United States. That's where I started and it's like, I hope whatever he does that he stays in the fight, stays in the hunt, and tries to get his message out. We can do better than these two aged guys, Trump and Biden; Phillips has at least shown us that. I don't know what it would take to get him in the White House, the Democrats are trying to block him off primary ballots, and Brian, I don't know when the show is going to air but there is a Michigan primary on the 27th. If you haven't voted early, Phillips is on it.

Brian Kruger  

This is somewhat related. This is from Stephanie in Sparta, Tennessee. She says, “Hi, Rich. If you were a betting man, would you bet on both Trump and Biden, or either one, being ousted at their respective conventions this year and replaced with other candidates? After all, the conventions produced the candidates before the primary system took over.”

Richard Helppie  

First of all, political forecasts...as a good friend of mine goes, you're going to be wrong more than you're right. I actually wrote a column a couple of years ago saying it won't be Biden and it won't be Trump. I don't think that's going to age very well, from what I understand about the rules. I believe the Republicans have to vote on the first ballot the way the primaries come out. If I am correct about that - I'm not one hundred percent sure - then that would mean Trump would become the nominee. Then the Democrats, my understanding is that it would take Biden assigning his delegates. There are people that are saying that his family should tell him not to run. So look, it's getting closer and closer to November and less and less chance for something to change. But what we can do is raise our voices, again, it's the only thing we can do at this point.

Brian Kruger  

Okay, this one's interesting. This is from Mike and there's no location, it came in from Substack. “If Biden drops out of the race, even at the very last minute, what does the Democratic Party do with Vice President Kamala Harris?”

Richard Helppie  

Thank her for her service and move on.

Brian Kruger  

Aren't her approval ratings like ten points lower than Biden's? 

Richard Helppie  

I think they're pretty abysmal, she's earned it though. [Laughter.] For most Democrats, that Biden did what he said he was going to do - nominate a woman - he did it. We have the first woman vice president back when we could define a woman...oops, let that slip out. Joe Biden should declare mission accomplished and move on.

Brian Kruger  

Alright, just a few more here, Rich. This is from Lisa, and this was from Twitter - or what was formerly called Twitter - “Rich, I enjoy your podcast, but I keep hearing you tell us how unprepared for the presidency Trump is and that he doesn't want to learn the job and he is personally very flawed. I have to ask you, if Trump wins this fall and he's putting together a cabinet - considering how many people in his first term were fired or quit - would you, Rich Helppie, take a position in his cabinet if asked?”

Richard Helppie  

Well, first of all, I don't think that's going to happen. It wouldn't matter to me under this theoretical situation; that is there's zero chance of that occurring. But who knows, maybe he's thrown so many other people under the bus, he's got to find fresh talent. But if my President called me - if it was Kamala Harris, if it was Donald Trump - it wouldn't matter. I would go serve to the best of my ability, period, because my President called me. I would expect that I would be fired and criticized and ridiculed by Trump because that's just how he rolls. One time long ago, I got fired from a job - I reported directly to the CEO - I feel bad about it, I was pretty young. Then I realized, hey, wait a minute, I've been here for years and he's fired 40 of his direct reports. It's like, that's just how he rolls. The people that he gets for the cabinet, they're sophisticated, they know how that's going to end. The man doesn't have advisors, that's why he's not prepared - of the many reasons. He doesn't listen to anybody. You can't run anything by the seat of your pants. And for Pete's sake, can the Democrats come up with a good candidate? That's my view, that the first of the major parties to come up with the sane candidate wins in a landslide.”

Brian Kruger  

Well, for whatever it's worth, I think that's a fine answer. It's a very military answer. As an American, if you're called upon by your President, you just pony up. Alright, let's move on. This is pretty well thought out. This is from Scott in Las Vegas. “Rich, I recently listened to a thought provoking podcast where Russell Dobular discussed the justification for the Hamas bombing of the Israelis. I respectfully disagree with his position. It prompted me to reflect on the complexities surrounding this touchy issue so I thought I'd write in. I wasn't clear about how you stood on this; can you make clear where you and The Common Bridge stands on this? 

Richard Helppie  

First of all, I can't sort out the Middle East. I know many Israelis and many Jewish people, I know many Arabic people and some Palestinians. And like any other normal citizen not involved with the government, they don't want to see this happening. None of the actual people that are involved in the fighting think this is a good idea. Even if you look at the Hamas attack, I don't know how many of the fighters you could number, but it's not like the whole area of Gaza mobilized and every able bodied person went and attacked, it was a very small number. The justification is really beyond me. This is why I had Dr. Todd Edelman on the program to talk about the history of the area and how things have come to be. I would encourage everyone to go back and listen to that. You'll get way more information and perspective than I personally can offer. I just I don't know, this looks intractable to me. So I'll just thoughtfully, prayerfully hope that it resolves in some manner better than what we've got right now.

Brian Kruger  

Okay, moving on. This is from DB from Substack and he's responding to your conversation with former North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory. I think it was episode 235. DB is saying that Trump is actually a third party candidate who really just rested power of the Republican Party and has essentially destroyed the Republican Party.” Do you agree with DB on that?

Richard Helppie  

It's not a bad view. I've got to tell you, DB, that is thought provoking. Way back in the primaries that led up to '16 I said the only good thing about Trump winning the nomination - which I thought he had no chance of doing - was that it would disrupt the establishment of the Republican Party. And he did, but they've not become more responsive. The Republicans have retreated. I liken them to a deer in the headlights. They just don't know what to do. As the famous saying goes, there's a front part to this statement but the back part is, or go blind. So the Republicans are really directionless and they're in a box. You can't say, well, I am a Republican, the way that Republicans used to be, and then, boom, the Trump wing is going to come down on you and you go, well, I don't like...you know...well, I really like Trump, well, you guys aren't being reasonable. The other thing I said in '16, was that Trump's election - which I didn't think was going to happen - I said it would disrupt the establishment of the Democratic Party. And I was wrong about that because the most establishment candidate ever in Joe Biden came in and the Democrats have closed ranks. They have hidden their candidate, hidden their President from us, exercised power in an authoritarian way. They're looking to protect that by this law-fare that's going on, any fair-minded person that looks at it understands that's what's going on. The Democrats' response was way different than I thought it was going to be. I was just wrong about that. They've doubled down on machine type politics and they don't seem to be pausing. It's going to get really ugly between now and November and potentially worse after November, no matter who wins.

Brian Kruger  

Okay, this is a bit of a non sequitur. This is from Ray in Dayton, who listens to your program on WJR in Detroit. He says, “Rich, I listened to your program on WJR last month and you talked about health care, and that it should not be a fringe benefit of employment but rather an expense that each citizen should carry the burden for. I don't agree with that at all. Why do you think we should pay for insurance instead of our employer paying for our insurance?”

Richard Helppie  

Well, it's not quite the policy. But first of all, you are paying for it. Make no mistake, you are paying for it. The patchwork of policies that we have is unfair on multiple levels and your employer's insurance is really a mirage; it's there unless you get so sick you can't work and then you lose it. If you become so old you can't work - exactly the time you need more health care - you lose it. The private insurance industry is very, very powerful and they are controlling the law in Washington. The simplest thing that Congress could do would be to say, okay employers, you can give those benefits but they are compensation, which is what the original intent was in 1945. Then when people started getting billed for the cost of that on their W-2s, we're going to get real reform, which just in a nutshell, a base level for everybody - and by the way, Dean Phillips is the only candidate that is saying we need to do that. It's the sensible thing to do. I've written about this, you can see it on my website, we're already there but a base level that everybody gets and then a private market for people that want more choice, faster service, etc. That would make the insurance companies have to come up with an affordable and attractive option. There's a little more to that but that basic core works rather well in many other Western democracies. In the United States, we're doing it the most stupid way possible. My proof statement is that had there not been special laws passed during COVID, relying on the payment system as it exists today would have put every health system - or nearly every health system - in America out of business; would have bankrupted them. So what we have today is stupid, I have a column I've written about health care reform, I've had lots of people on that. To that other person's question – Lisa from Twitter - maybe Trump calls me or [laughter] oops, maybe the President-elect calls me and says, hey, we need a Secretary of HHS, what do you got? [Laughter.]

Brian Kruger  

All right, that wraps up this quarter's version of The Common Bridge mailbag, Rich, thanks a lot. In looking forward, do you think this is going to be a fun year with the election and everything? And outside of that, just wrap up this episode.

Richard Helppie  

All right, Brian, first of all, it depends on your definition of fun, okay. I'm not saying that you, as a professional comedian, one day couldn't find a joke in anything. I can usually find the funny side of just about anything. I think the only way out of this is that people need to quit buying what they're selling. I love getting the private messages. People say, hey, I like the program, have you thought about this and such. Please tell your friends, let's get a discussion going. Substack is moving along a little bit. It's real people talking instead of people flaming each other. It's not a social media platform, it's real journalism being practiced by real journalists. Again, I don't keep myself in that group but I am trying to do some decent reporting here. I'm very grateful to my guests and I'm very grateful to the listeners and the readers and the viewers. I just appreciate you being there and love to hear from you so thank you everybody. This is your - not host - this is your guest today, Rich Helppie, signing off on The Common Bridge.

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