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S2: Hello and welcome to the Slate political gabfest for February 4th, 2021, the Jewish Space Laser Edition. I am David Plotz of Citi Capital. Pure Joy. Jewish Space Laser. By the way, you are not a Jew.
S1: You cannot make the Jewish space NASA feel like we should welcome. That’s not how it’s going to make good sound effects. He can he can do that.
S3: John only has one sound effect. It is that sound effect which he uses.
S4: Yeah, but everything like it’s having its moment.
S3: The Jewish space laser has a little more baso in it, John.
S4: Well, you know, the you know why there’s you can’t hear the Gentile space laser. It’s very stealthy.
S3: It has a drink in its hand that you can hear the click of the the ice cubes banging against the side of it.
S1: But it doesn’t interrupt anyone unlike me.
S3: That’s Emily Bazelon of New York Times magazine, Yale University Law School. John Dickerson of CBS 60 Minutes today. Did Stephen Breyer resign yet? Plus, watch day 15. We will not talk about that. First, we will talk about how big a relief bill Congress may approve a covert relief bill, how many bridges will have to be built in West Virginia to carry vaccines into West Virginia named after Joe Manchin in order to get it passed? Then the racial disparity in vaccine distribution is shocking. We will talk to Dr. Blackstock about how to narrow it. Then will Republicans punish Kuhnen sympathising Pelosi assassination condoning Jewish space laser conspiracist mongering Marjorie Taylor Green. They will not. But will the entire house punish her? What does the MTG controversy signal? Plus, of course, we will have cocktail chatter. Joe Biden and the Democrats are pushing a one point nine trillion dollar covid relief bill. It would send fourteen hundred dollar checks to most Americans. It would extend unemployment aid through September. It would provide big funding for more vaccinations and better vaccination rollout. It would have huge aid to schools to help with reopening, among other things. It would also, I think the version I saw would raise the minimum wage, the federal minimum wage, to fifteen dollars an hour. Republicans say six hundred billion dollars should be enough. In fact, just that that’s the Republicans who are willing to compromise. They say six hundred billion dollars should be enough. So, Jon, why is President Biden pushing such a big bill now? And is it even big enough?
S4: Well, I don’t know. I don’t know if it’s big enough. It depends how you measure, you know, I mean, in some sense, like we’re at a, you know, once in a eone pandemic here and it’s feels like you should be throwing money at it, given the devastation in its wake. However, the Congressional Budget Office said that the American economy will be back to pre pandemic size by the middle of this year, even if there’s no further aid or to the recovery. So now they also said that it would be years before those who had lost their jobs as a result of the pandemic would be able to return to work. So there’s the big economy and then there’s the individual lives that have been devastated by it. So I don’t know the economics of whether a thousand is better than hundred, but I do know he wants to go big for, you know, a lot of reasons.
S5: I mean, it’s not it’s it’s not just to deal with the pandemic, but also to deal with a lot of the issues that have been uncovered by the pandemic. It seemed like in the most recent back and forth here that there is he doesn’t want to move on the question of fourteen hundred dollar direct payments or the extension of jobless aid, unemployment. But there seems to be some wiggle room on on direct aid to states and the federal minimum wage. Having said that, Chris Coons, the senator who is close to Biden, didn’t seem like there was any wiggle room on direct aid to states.
S4: And the reason direct aid to states to remind everybody is so important is that the states have budget requirements that mean they can’t do it. The federal government can do, which is go into debt in the same way. So they are feeling incredible pressure and need the help.
S3: Emily, in 2009, when President Obama came in, in the midst of a huge and growing recession, there was a TARP bill. The recovery bill, I think was that was a TARP. I can’t remember if it’s TARP or the TARP passed under Bush. You know, it’s not TARP. It’s the American Recovery Act that that Obama push ended up being significantly smaller than his his liberal economist wanted it to be. And a lot of Democrats think that the recovery from that recession was, as a result, much slower. And so now they want to do something and they never got a chance to do another bill. Do you think Democrats should think like this is going to be the only bill we’re going to get a chance to do? So let us, in fact, throw the kitchen sink in a 15 dollar wage for the kitchen sink into this bill.
S1: I mean, I think they sort of have done that and that there are two lessons. One is that both Bill Clinton and Barack Obama waded in hopes of bipartisan support, which then never materialized. And so you have months go by in which Republicans sort of seem like maybe they’ll come over and then they never do. And you’ve wasted you’ve dribbled away the whole beginning of your presidency. So it seems like the Biden people have really taken that lesson to heart. And then I think the other lesson is that with many more economists think now that it is acceptable for the United States to be heavily in debt, to borrow huge sums of money to let the money printer go gober, as one of the memes about this says, and that you can do that with less danger of inflation overheating the economy than I think was the previous mainstream consensus. This is not my great field of expertise, but I feel like there has been a real shift in how economists think about borrowing money and that this is a kind of Keynesian moment where we’re supposed to be borrowing in order to make sure that the economy really comes back and that this bill has redistribution in it. Like that’s why you’re seeing these checks go out. Biden did say that he was open to the idea of targeting them more than the current proposal. So not having the checks mailed to people in higher income brackets, I mean, there was already a threshold, but he seems to be open to having fewer people who are kind of middle class, upper middle class receiving them. That seems to me like it could make sense.
S3: John, do you think there is actually a compromise that gets meaningful numbers of Republican votes, enough Republican votes to get to the 60 vote threshold they need to avoid this bill being filibustered so that doesn’t have to pass under reconciliation or not? Really.
S5: I think I would frame the question slightly differently. I think they’re going to go ahead with reconciliation. When we saw that the motion to proceed passed in the Senate, which is really the first thing you have to do to go down the long road to get to reconciliation, you can have a reconciliation bill that gets Republican votes and that’s what they’re looking to try to do. So I think the the the question of the filibuster has left the station.
S4: If a question can leave a station, which is itself a question, which then leads the question to can a question about leaving the station leave the station? But while you ponder that the the reconciliation bill is going to happen. Will you do that or turn off the show to really acceptable choices, continue the the reconciliation? This is going to I I think unless something strange happens, this is going to go through reconciliation. And the question is just how many Republican votes you get. And then the question is A, what is bipartisanship means? So what if you get like six of those Republicans or three or four? Does that mean it’s bipartisan?
S5: And does that really mean anything? In other words, can you build on that? And what what strength and weight does bipartisanship really have politically? And someday down the road, we’ll talk about why this matters for some senators, because the the twenty twenty two playing field, which tends to be at the moment, look a little grimmer for Republicans. More are up in more up in twenty, twenty two than Democrats. And also in states that have open seats are incumbents where it’s where they’re more battleground states as opposed to to secure states. And so we’re going to see whether that has it puts any political pressure on Republicans to to act or in fact, vote in a bipartisan way.
S3: Emily, the bill, if it goes through reconciliation, it has to meet these incredibly exacting standards, the Byrd Rule, whereby it won’t raise the budget deficit for ten years. We talked a little bit about this last week. There’s a great Ezra Klein column in The New York Times. I recommend to people today about on Thursday, about this question about what you have to do to meet the Byrd Rule and how absurd that makes the Senate, how it’s impossible to achieve any policy aims. And of course, this means that things like the expansions in voter rights and voter accessibility that Democrats think are important to saving democracy have no chance because they have nothing to do with the budget. But even something like the federal minimum wage, which which a lot of Democrats would like to raise to fifteen dollars, in which the vast majority of Americans think should be raised to fifteen dollars, has no chance because it doesn’t fit in this pocket. Does the fact that this bill is basically just going to be like a bunch of money? Not really. Policy ends. It’s just a big pile of money that’s getting shoveled in different directions, but it isn’t a real shift in policy. Does that going to make Democrats think, you know, we really do need to do something about this filibuster? Are they going to be like, oh, we got a good win? That’s all we need. We don’t need a minimum wage shift?
S1: Yeah, that’s a great question. I mean, there’s going to be pressure from the progressive wing to do more for exactly the reasons you said these are high priorities, voting, minimum wage, immigration reform is completely out of reach in filibuster and I would imagine so that’s where you see that pressure. But I also think you’re right that you could imagine the Biden administration taking a victory lap. And a lot of senators know I’m not sure it’s a lot. A few senators I mean, let’s get back to Joe Manchin and all the bridges or glittering towers that could be built in West Virginia. I mean, if this is up to Joe Manchin in West Virginia and Krysten Sinema in Arizona, then, no, those things won’t pass because they don’t want to take what seemed to them to be tough votes, to really change the balance of power by getting rid of the filibuster or by giving statehood to other to D.C. to possibly to Puerto Rico, like the structural reforms are going to require lockstep support from Democrats.
S3: And right now that doesn’t exist the bridges of Madison County. John, how much should Democrats be willing to bribe Joe Manchin, cinema, Mitt Romney, any any middle middle of the Senate official in order to get something done? My view is they should do anything. They should name a state after Mitch McConnell, for God’s sake. Yeah, why not? Well, give them give the Romney family and family, like exclusive permanent rights to water ski in the Great Salt Lake and no one else can do it. Like, give it to them if you if it gets you what you need.
S5: Yeah. Also it’s I’m also we’ll see at the end of the process what Manchin actually gets. I mean, part of what he’s getting is attention. And he likes to be a player. He was a governor. Of a state and a pretty popular one thought about going back to being governor because the Senate can be kind of a boring place, particularly for governors who’ve actually had to do things. So part of it may be that he likes the attention. He likes trying to get things done. I’ve I think he cares about the people getting them the paychecks, which, you know, and there are a lot of people in West Virginia who will benefit from this money. So I’m not sure that. Well, we’ll see what what what specifically gets in the bill? Is there going to be a remember the corn Cornhusker kickback that was briefly tried to get Obamacare through for Senator Nelson and Nebraska Democratic senator that never got in the bill because it was discovered that this is a payoff to him. We’ll see if there’s any of that in this. Now, for Republicans, I think you can buy Susan Collins is a big fan of returning earmarks in in the David Plotz school. She thinks it was a disaster, that it basically gave authority to the executive branch by getting rid of earmarks, which were a way for Congress to maintain control over its spending. And we’re a way to get these kind of get any kind of bill through.
S4: But I think you basically you got Collins, Murkowski, Romney in the list kind of ends there. And we see from the retirement of Rob Portman that, you know, senators who might have been considered more moderate than, say, a Ted Cruz are leaving because, a, the Senate isn’t that fun anymore. And B, because they know that if they did anything that smelled of bipartisanship, they would catch hell at home. And that’s what we’ve talked about this before. That’s the problem. We’ll talk about it more with Marjorie Taylor Green. But that’s the real problem with bipartisanship is is the is the structural challenges they face at home.
S1: Did Rob Portman ever do anything bipartisan? I feel like he would sort of dangle himself out there and then withdraw.
S4: Turns out Portman got bipartisan co-sponsors on the fourth most bills compared to all senators. It’s pretty damn boom.
S3: Before we leave this, I do want to say a few kind words for Joe Manchin, who I think gets a lot of heat because he is you know, his his views on climate are not great. He is a conservative Democrat by any measure. But this is a guy who’s running in that maybe the most Republican or most Trumpy state. He’s managed to hold the governorship. He’s managed to win the Senate seat there. You cannot hold him to the standards that you hold the senator from, you know, from Connecticut or from Vermont or Massachusetts or California. He just for him to be able to be an effective senator from his state, he he’s got to take a very different position than other people. And I, I give him credit for for really being a pretty good Democratic soldier when it’s necessary. And also for, you know, for managing to to to keep the job which nobody, no other Democrat could hold in West Virginia at this point. That is a lost seat. It’s kind of like what Susan Collins is to Republicans. I mean, whenever Republicans go after Susan Collins, it’s like, yeah, who else could hold that seat right now? Just her.
S1: Well, I don’t actually know if that’s true about Maine, but I think you’re right about West Virginia. My question about Joe Manchin is, isn’t he like 65? Is he really going to run again? And if that really is a 65 percent.
S4: Oh, my gosh, yes. He’s got like Apple more terms in him.
S1: Oh, come on. I knew that may be true, but it’s also true. But I don’t think he’s up for election reform.
S3: Robert Byrd, Robert Byrd held that seat to his right.
S1: Well, finally, I was just there’s an alternate I always wonder with Joe Manchin if he just gave up on the idea that he was going to win again and that the Democrats were going to hold that seat beyond this. Like, think of the vistas that could open before.
S3: Let me put it this way. I’m like, you’re closer to death. You’re closer to 65 than he is to retirement.
S4: OK, and his term doesn’t end until twenty, twenty five. So he’s not up again for another four years.
S1: Three. Well, that’s sort of my point. Like you could see, this is like you got four years, dude, and that’s good enough. You’ll be, what, 69 like that’s a good, respectable career. We shouldn’t want everyone to stay in office until they’re in their 80s and 90s Slate plus members.
S3: Our topic this week for Slate plus bonus segment. We’re going to we’re going to do a David Plotz topic. We’re talking about city cars, the state of city cast. My new business, what we’re up to, what’s going on there, how you can participate in it. And we’re also going to preview a great slate plus for next week. So make sure you listen both for this week and for our preview of next week. White Americans are getting vaccinated at higher rates than black and brown Americans, even though death and serious illness disproportionately are hitting black and brown America. We are joined by Dr. Jay Blackstock. She’s an emergency physician, founder and CEO of Advancing Health Equity. She’s also a Yahoo! News medical contributor. Welcome to the gabfests, Dr. Blackstock. Can we start by talking about the vaccine disparity? What numbers do we have about the disparity along racial lines with vaccination, covid vaccination? And what sense do we have about what is causing that?
S6: Right. So first, I’d say that the data that we have thus far is incomplete. Right now, we only have about 23 states reporting racial and ethnic demographic data, and even those states aren’t reporting complete data. But what we do have, based on the data from those 23 states, is that in some states, you know, white Americans are being vaccinated up to three to four times higher rate than than black Americans. So it’s obviously incredibly profound. And we need to put more pressure on states to be reporting that complete data, because obviously this is just sort of we’re seeing some early trends, but we don’t know how profound the disparity truly is.
S1: I mean, I was reading this Washington Post article by Erin Cox, Juli’s Osma, Lola Fardella and Janet Portnoy. That was about vaccine distribution and a bunch of American cities.
S7: What struck me was that the way in which it lines up geographic problem. So there are these hotspots for covid, right? We’ve known that for a long time. People who live in crowded housing, people who live in neighborhoods where there are lots of people going out to work, multigenerational households and in D.C. and certain other cities, those are the neighborhoods with much lower rates of vaccination, which is totally off in terms of just like preventing death and serious illness. And what’s happening is that, you know, cities and states opened up vaccines to everybody over 75. And so you have white people going to clinics in poor neighborhoods where they never ventured. The lead of this Washington Post story is about an organization called Bread for the City in D.C. and actually used to be on their board. And so there was just something so hard for me about this kind of information. And I guess it’s not surprising. I mean, people also reporting that they are spending hours trying to sign up. And so you’re sort of rewarding, I think, like just more affluent, computer savvy people at the expense of these neighborhoods. I mean, what about just bringing the vaccine to hot spots like with the right way of dealing with this?
S8: You know, it’s interesting because I think when you look at the the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, that’s the CDC committee that came up with the recommendations for which groups get priority.
S6: I personally think that it was an opportunity to for them to use race explicitly, which is obviously very controversial and definitely something that legal scholars argue about. But we know exactly which communities are being most heavily hit and we know that it’s a product of systemic racism. We know that all of these factors that have contributed to certain communities being disproportionately impacted, such as you mentioned, overcrowded housing, you know, needing to use public transportation or working in public facing jobs. Those are all factors that influence these very high rates of infections and then thinking about which communities are overburdened with chronic diseases. Again, like that’s not a coincidence or a mistake. So, you know, when my sister and I we wrote this piece in The Washington Post last week, we thought that we actually said that we we think that, you know, race should have been explicitly included in that prioritization scheme because I mean, the problem is we can do it geographically. That’s, I think, probably helpful, but it won’t encompass everyone that needs to get the vaccine. There are other criteria that you can use. The CDC has an index called Social Vulnerability Index, which looks at different census tracks and uses like different 20 different pieces of criteria to decide, like how structurally vulnerable a community is. And I think there are probably about 12 states that are actually using the FBI to determine who gets prioritization. But all that to say, I think that the states just needed to be more intentional about making sure that the communities that were heaviest had had access to the vaccines. And it’s not just about putting the vaccines in those communities. I think that’s that’s half the job. But as you mentioned, the registration process, right? If people don’t have access to smartphones, if they don’t have access to computers, how are they going to sign up for vaccine appointments? Right. So thinking about how can we create systems that make it easier for people, the people who actually need to sign up to sign up.
S5: So let me pick up there, Dr. Blackstock is there in the hierarchy of things that need to be tended to. What is the basket of things that I mean, one is awareness of the problem that this distribution inequity exists. The other is some of the specific challenges of different communities. The others is, you know, in D.C. Ward three coming over to Ward eight, as Emily was talking about, although they appear to. And then and then on top of that, is there anybody in the Bronx there? There in New York? They’re just they’ve just now said they’re opening Yankee Stadium. I think to maybe that’s to try to deal with the distribution issues in D.C. They tried to change the zip code requirements. Is anybody catching on to this? And are any solutions ones that can be copied by other states and cities?
S8: Right. Yeah, and I think as you see, a lot of what’s happening is happening at the local and the state level, because that’s where that’s where vaccine distribution typically happens. And so I think what DC did, which was, you know, actually quite reactionary, but, you know, they should have done it from the start. But in every neighborhood should that you should reserve a certain allotment of vaccines for people who actually live in the neighborhood. It doesn’t have to be all of the vaccines. But you can say, OK, about 65 to 70 percent, we’re going to reserve for people who live in this community. And again, I think that, you know, when we’re looking at the state’s rollout plans, there are a significant number of states that didn’t even have mentioned about an equity framework, thinking about how are we going to incorporate equity in the vaccine rollout. And as we’re seeing, I think this is one of the reasons why we’re having these disparities. But I also think, you know, as you mentioned, John, that vaccine accessibility is just one piece of the issue. The other piece, which is huge, is outreach. And I think that, you know, we’ve been hearing this, the term vaccine hesitancy, which I try not to use because I think, you know, I prefer to use like institutional trustworthiness. I think that there are social institutions like the health care institution, criminal legal system, educational system that have really created a black community is quite poorly over the years. And because of that, there is this distrust of seeking care. There’s this distrust of the vaccine. People have so many questions about about the speed, the apparent speed at which this vaccine was developed. And so I have not seen the mass public health campaign that I think is needed to educate the public one, but also two, it needs to be done and really nuance culturally responsive ways, depending on the community that you’re targeting. And so these are the things that really need that should have been done months ago that we need to start working on very quickly.
S3: Yeah. Dr. Blackstock, I want to dig into that a little bit because I am shocked. I mean, if there’s one thing Americans are good at, we’re great nation of marketers like we are. We have a history of great marketing in this country. And it is amazing to me how little marketing there is around the vaccine and how little, you know, I watch a lot of TV, never see ads like about it. Never say, never admit there’s nothing I’m not. When I’m looking on, you know, I cruise the Internet like doing things. No one is targeting me with things, telling me to get vaccinated. And I assume and your point about it has to be very nuanced and specific and it reached different people in different ways. What recommendations do you have around what that campaign should look like and how how in particular it should address some of these issues around institutional trustworthiness for black Americans?
S8: So, you know, it’s interesting, the Trump administration, they actually had a plan to work with the ad council to use celebrities. And I think probably one of them was a country singer. I can’t remember which country singer, but it just felt so tone deaf. And I do think definitely there’s a role for celebrities. But when you ask people who do they trust the most, especially about health information, it’s really their health care professionals. And so I think that this is an opportunity, especially in the black communities and brown communities, to work with health care providers in those areas about doing outreach, calling patients, being able to answer questions that they do have about the vaccine, but also to use other trusted messengers in these communities. So barbers have actually helped in terms of health, education, even before this pandemic, in terms of diabetes education, hypertension, education. And they could do the same with just talking to their clients about about coronavirus and about the vaccine. I think also there’s a role for faith based leaders as well. I know a number of churches have had virtual town halls, but then like on a on a mass level, I think that we need to be seeing commercials on TV. We need to see ads on buses and trains and also social media. I think social media is actually a place where. There is a lot of misinformation and disinformation and we need to be on there doing Facebook lives, IJI lives, there need to be pop up ads about vaccines and sort of breaking the science down and answering the most pressing questions that the public has about the vaccine.
S4: So Joe Biden, when he ran for president, talked about build back better. And the idea was that covid has eliminated inequities in our society, that once they’ve been exposed to a broader audience, remedies can be brought in. They can not only fix the momentary challenge of covid-19, but install better systems to deal with and take care of ongoing challenges that those communities have faced but people haven’t looked at. So in that context, can you talk about community health workers, what they can do with respect to the vaccine? But then also if the army of community health workers is expanded, what they then could do after covid-19 goes away?
S8: Right. Thank you so much for that question. I think that community health workers are incredibly underutilized. I’m just for people listening. They are trained professionals who are either from the community or familiar with the communities that they work in. And they do anything from a range of connecting community residents to social services, bringing medications they can do, vaccine education. I think they probably could even be trained to administer vaccines. But the problem is, is that we don’t have federal funding to support an expansive community health worker program. And it’s interesting because in developing nations, community health workers have really a key role in especially in preventing a spread of infections. They go door to door and they have a relationship with community members in a way that others do not. And I think that we are definitely under utilizing them. There is a role for them. And I think the bitin Harris administration should consider thinking about policies to help support these programs and training these professionals to get in the communities, because, as you mentioned, we could have an army of community health workers out there going door to door, which actually needs to be done, especially for our elderly and our shut in and people who are disabled. We need that.
S7: I want to shift topics somewhat, although I think this is all related to the issue of school reopening. There’s a lot of division in this on this topic. In urban districts, we’ve seen less coming back to in-person school from black and brown parents, more fear. I’ve come to understand this a lot in terms of trust and lack of trust. I know your kids are back in school, and I wonder, you know, how you have been thinking about this issue, you know, personally, but also as you look across the country at these really pitched battles going on in some cities like Chicago, San Francisco, between city officials and teachers’ unions.
S8: Yeah, and it’s interesting, I was talking to my twin sister about this because, you know, she also heard one of her children is also in school. But I’m as a black woman, as a physician, as someone who cares very deeply about health equity and whose children are in New York City public school. This is something that I’ve thought about a lot. I think that especially in New York City, there was a missed opportunity for our Department of Education to really to do outreach with families. And, you know, I know my school my kid’s school had three or four virtual town halls where our principal went through every step of the procedures that are going to be used to keep our kids and teachers safe. And for me, that was reassuring. That’s one of the reasons why so many kids from our school returned and we actually have five days in person learning. But the problem is that every school is different, every school has different school leadership, and that’s not standardized. And what we’re seeing is you mentioned, you know, black and brown families are worried. They’re concerned that the school system is not going to take care of their kids and keep their kids safe. And I and I have to say that I understand. And the problem is, is that there is we have data out there, although it’s not complete, but we have data out there suggesting that below a certain level, schools are not key drivers of infection and that we can actually return safely to schools if we have these mitigation practices in place. And so that’s been really difficult for me to know that the science is on our side, but that the children that do need to be in school are not in school. And I think that the conversation around school reopening has just become so polarized where if you want schools to reopen and this happened to me on social media, people said I was being anti teacher, anti educator. And I was like, wait a minute. Whoa, whoa, whoa. Let’s let’s slow down. First of all, let’s center who is most affected by this? The students being out of school? I have a four and six year old and last spring and I know from a lot of families was incredibly difficult. My children are not engaged by remotely. And people talk about, oh, but we just need to put more support towards remote learning. I don’t think that’s really going to make a difference.
S1: I’m going to be honest, especially for kids, the ages of your especially young children.
S8: Yeah, and I think that they should be in school, so we should be making every effort to get them in school safely. Right. And this is the nuance of the conversation. It’s not like we’re we’re I’m saying return back to school, just like how it was before March. It’s what these mitigation practices in place to keep everyone safe. And I also think that teachers have to understand that for now there’s not going to be a zero risk situation. And I think as a physician, I get that because I deal with risk all the time and caring for my patients. So there’s not going to be a serious situation. So what can we do to make sure that we lower the risk? So I knew sending my kids to school there was still a risk. But when I when I weighed the risks and benefits of keeping them out of school versus in school, I thought that putting them in school was was important. And so far we’ve been we’ve been fortunate and lucky.
S7: My son goes to an urban high school in New Haven. He is not back in school.
S1: The city did bring pre-K through five back. Not as many children have actually returned to school as I think the school district was hoping. So there’s this anecdote that is part of how I’m understanding of this in my city right now. And I wonder if this makes sense to you. So in March, Simon came home and said, oh, they made an announcement over the loudspeaker. Now there’s going to be soap in the bathrooms. Like before there wasn’t soap. Now they’re soap. This is like a week or two before they closed because of covid. And I thought and Simon thought like, oh, good. Now they’ll be soap like gets bad that there wasn’t before, but like good soap, toilet paper. Good. A lot of parents it comes up over and over and board of ed meetings like you didn’t have soap, you didn’t have toilet paper. We don’t trust you to keep having those things. How can we trust you with our children? And this is a city that actually has school buildings in good condition. And there’s been a lot of inspecting of, you know, the fact. So it’s and yet I feel like I’ve come to understand my own willingness to send my kid back is like part following the science, like you said, but part also that I’m kind of naive, like and I’m kind of entitled and used to thinking that institutions are going to work. And a lot of people have these long standing experiences with schools in my city that are not that. And so I understand why they don’t trust. And yet it has this. Yeah, no, no.
S8: I think it’s it’s the same issue with the vaccine. I think people underestimate how much racism trauma has traumatized black people to the point where if you present present, here’s the data. Here’s a data showing this vaccine is actually works. Right. There’s high efficacy. And look, also, here’s a data showing that if you put mitigation practices in place and schools now, they’re going to do it. People are like, no, I’m done. I can’t even argue with that. Right. All I can do is have conversations with people. I can I can put responsibility on our department, on our board of Ed, you know, Dowi to make sure they’re doing everything that they can to make these schools safe. That’s their responsibility. Right. And the parents have to at some point, you know, get buy in to to, you know, agree that, yes, I’m OK with sending my kids to school. But but but I always say these are examples of how traumatizing racism is.
S1: Right. And I think teachers and not necessarily, you know, at all, just black teachers, lots of white teachers, because there are lots of white teachers in public school, also have these feelings of distrust that we haven’t sufficiently grappled with.
S3: Dr. Blackstock, thanks for joining us. Come back anytime on Thursday morning as we’re taping Marjorie Taylor Greene, a member of Congress from Georgia, newly elected Republican. There will be a House vote. It seems full House will vote on whether to strip her of her committee seats after the Republican caucus declined to do anything. Republican leader Kevin McCarthy declined to do anything to discipline Green other than to deplore her remarks. Her remarks, of course, were pretty terrible. She condoned the assassination of top Democrats, including the leader of the House, Nancy Pelosi. She blamed a Jewish space laser for the California wildfires. She harassed Parkland shooting survivors. She claimed Newtown with a false flag operation. That’s just a small sampling of some of the craziness that Greene put out on social media and elsewhere in the months and years before she was elected to Congress this fall, Mitch McConnell denounced her, quote, loony lies. But the Republican Party is showing no interest in purging her, Emily, because, in fact, she seems to speak for, if not the majority, at least the dominant force in that party right now.
S7: Yeah, I mean, I guess the way we’re supposed to think about this is that it’s an open question whether she’s the dominant force. I mean, Liz Cheney, the number three in House leadership, held onto her position pretty handily.
S1: I think it helped her that there was a secret vote in the House. And, of course, this was controversial because she had voted to impeach President Trump and denounced him. Marjorie Taylor Greene is like the Trump Beiste Trumpy representative. And I mean, the conspiracy theories are really wild and really disturbing, and some of them are violent. And yet she got a standing ovation from half the members of the House yesterday. And Kevin McCarthy, the leader of the Republicans in the House, is not going to kick her off these committees. So now the Democrats have this idea of forcing this vote to put everybody on the record. I have to say, I mean, John, what do you think about this idea of one party telling the other party which committee assignments are acceptable? The Democrats are going to say, well, this is just like so out there, we have to do something. But I just wonder about this precedent. What do you think about that?
S4: I think it is actually unprecedented. I’m not I’m not positive about that, but I don’t think that’s that’s been done, certainly not formally. I think when a member advocates for the assassination of the leader of your conference, you get to do what you want. The question is whether it’s politically smart. It is helpful for Democrats to define the entire Republican Party by Marjorie Taylor Green in the same way that the Republicans and the president and politicians forever have.
S5: The previous president, I should say, have tried to define parties by their most revolutionary members, so leaving her on the committee would allow them to keep doing that. I’m not sure that her being off the committee will stop the fundraising letters that that talk about all the crazy things she’s done that Democrats are sending out, which, by the way, is a part of the problem. I mean, obviously, Marjorie Taylor Green is is is a problem for the Republican Party that has to play footsie with these forces of extremism to keep their majority, which is what this is all about.
S4: I mean, Kevin McCarthy has to he doesn’t want to split in his party. In the old days when politics was on in the Democratic Party, when politics operated in a more reasonable fashion, Tip O’Neill had to coddle the Blue Dog Democrats, the boll weevil Democrats who were basically quite conservative and aligned with Ronald Reagan more than with liberal Democrats. But O’Neill allowed them to do what they needed to do in order to stay majority leader. So that’s the way politics is supposed to work in this case. McCarthy has to in some ways allow her and those who would give her a standing ovation to be crazy because he wants to one day be majority leader. So that’s the structural problem that’s that’s at issue here. And it’s a part of the structural problems that that that kept Republicans quiet for two months while the president was saying something that was a lie, which is that the party that the election was overthrown and it was a result of that cowardice in the face of structural political pressure that led to the insurrection. So I’m not trying to downplay this. I’m just trying to explain why why it exists and why it’s going to continue to exist. If you want to be a majority and don’t have the courage to kick out people who say things that are both insane and dangerous, we’re going to keep facing this time and time again.
S3: I want to make a couple of points. First of all, I think. I don’t know, I agree with you, John, that that what she has said about assassinating Pelosi makes her puts her in a different category than anybody else. I mean, that it does seem to me that Democrats have every right to do whatever it is. The stripping of committee assignments is a kind of hilarious punishment. I mean, does anyone think that’s the source of anyone’s power, influence in on the House and the GOP in any way these days? It’s not they’re not really there for the subcommittee hearing. It’s like it just gives you more time to go on FOX, more time to rail against whatever it is you want to rail about murder. Taylor Green did not come to Congress to work on the nitty gritty of of bills that Congress is considering because the House isn’t going to consider any bills that are meaningful that she would have a say on. Can I just interject quickly?
S5: Yeah. This is a show vote, though, because you’re putting the rest of the Republican Party on the record, which is maybe we’re. Sure.
S3: Yeah. Yeah, sure. It’s a show, but yes, it is a show vote. But it’s it is the weather where the Republican Party is is deplorable and forcing them to take a show of a sure. Fine, but it doesn’t it doesn’t actually get to the issue, which is that what you were pointing to, John, which is the issue is that the Republican Party is riven, it’s completely riven into two forces. And the force that sane people want to prevail does not control the party anymore. And has it let the snake get bigger and bigger and bigger. And now the snake is the whole room. And they they just there is no possibility of purging this force from the Republican Party. The only thing that’s going to get purged from the Republican Party if Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy tried to team up to purge those forces, those people out of the party, it would be Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy.
S1: I think your party is with you like what is going on?
S3: I mean, Conspiracists Wing is the party. The party is the conspiracist wing now.
S1: Right. And then is that, as I saw some headlines this week, is that just showing how powerful right wing media and right wing social media is that basically like there’s this juggernaut from Fox News and Newsmax and Facebook, et cetera, that just has it is the snake or created the snake? And it’s a bigger force than any kind of establishment political one. And that’s how it goes. Like because there’s I don’t know, part of me worries that when we did OK. So, yes, it’s important to show that Marjorie Taylor Greene is being embraced by the party. On the other hand, it makes her more popular and powerful in her world for sure, right? Absolutely.
S5: Well, that’s yeah, she is a glorious martyr. That’s right. And that’s that’s the important point here, is that while Marjorie Taylor Greene and the people who gave her a standing ovation are not the majority of the Republican Party, they are the majority of the activist passion of the party. And she gains more power and energy and money and attention in these kinds of martyrdom moments, not because people think, yes, she’s right about the Jewish space laser or any other of the things she says. But because of what we talked about before, which is that she’s the enemy of my enemy is my friend, and she is presenting herself as President Trump did, as a persecuted person. And her fundraising letters are a model of the form that she is a Christian and a patriot, and therefore that’s why she’s being attacked.
S1: And that will all she gets name recognition and a ton of media attention. So that always strikes me. And then the other kind of larger question that I have no answer to, that I feel like we’re going to be talking about for a while is are these dark forces bigger now or are they just more in our face? A lot because of the capital assault, like because we write I mean, I don’t believe that they’re bigger. They’re bigger. You think they’re really big?
S3: Yeah, because we have this idea like, oh, Trump didn’t Trump didn’t change who we are just revealed who we are. That’s not true. I just don’t think that’s true. I think that that it yes. There are always people who are who are susceptible to certain kinds of thinking. There are always people who say who who’s who could be driven in a direction. But they’ve been people have been driven somewhere. They’ve been pushed somewhere by this combination of social media, by Trump’s absolute selfish wickedness, by economic insecurity, by a kind of tolerance for racism that that used to public racism. It used to be, you know, for at least a brief period had been suppressed in American life. And that has made people worse, made people more conspiracist, more susceptible to this. Did you guys read the Tom Etzel piece in The Times?
S1: I did. Which is totally, like totally mean. If what you’re saying. It’s like these conspiracy theories, they’re they’re growing. They’re mushrooming. So here’s my question, though, and I’d really divide on this. Here’s one side of me. One side of me is like, OK, there is this sense of incredible emergency when you hear some people. We’ll talk about the civil war, the sense of huge grievance racial division like the country is at stake, but it’s bullshit, like the country is basically fine. This is not 1920s or 1930s. Germany, like the economy is not totally in the tank. We are going to make it out of this pandemic, though it is tedious and wearing and, you know, terrible in the death that it has caused. So it’s kind of phony. And it just makes me feel like Tucker Carlson has the power to make to conjure up a reality that doesn’t exist in a lot of people’s lives now. I mean, that’s a very broad brush. And there are people who live in parts of the country, you know, the Rust Belt, these depressed towns economically, where maybe things do feel really dire in a way that I don’t appreciate. I can imagine that to be the case. But this larger narrative, it’s wrong. And that I just think that’s we just like I get caught on that as. Wait a second.
S4: But I think what what Edsels work has has by connecting with the political scientists and the anthropologists and the sociologists who are looking at this, I think has been useful and illuminating is that it’s that it’s both those who are feeling actual economic pain, but those also who are in a much larger group who are feeling status anxiety, and that is economic status anxiety.
S5: But it’s also cast status anxiety, which is, in other words, the hierarchy and the roles that I was expecting everybody to play in American life, in the life of my kids future are going to be different. And the people playing those roles are going to be just different than either in skin color or or in orientation or just kind of not what I know. And that sense of fear, which goes right to the center of people’s identity, is what would cause his politics to be an inflammation activity rather than just a kind of hobby people are passionate about. It goes to their central identity about themselves. And so if you’ve got somebody who is a warrior for your identity, then you’re just happy to be at the rally cheering them on, even if what they individually say might be totally bonkers. So I think that’s what’s at the heart of it, of what we’re of what we’re talking about and examining. And then the question is just how big and virulent is this is this group we’re talking about?
S3: So that’s a John. That’s very well said. Yes. I just realized, like, I’m in the two pieces of culture I’m consuming right now besides a couple of delightful French TV shows which are, oh, my God, French TV is like taking over the world.
S4: Are you watching Leupen? I’m yes. Great. I told you to watch this.
S3: I’m watching at Emily’s recommendation. Yes. And then I’m watching. Call my agent the new season.
S4: Call my agent, which is also great, by the way, the conversation. Oh, by the way, the conversation we were having right now about French television and these kinds of things are are you know, you could imagine somebody listening to that and thinking you people are the thing that is threatening in my life. But just because it’s that is ridiculous.
S3: On Netflix, like everything else, everyone has a place on Netflix and through the division. But I want to make the point that I was going to make before I mentioned French TV. I have the floor for a moment, not because Gipple the so the other piece of culture I’m consuming are David Blit Civil War Course, which I talked about. And then I’m reading Lords of Finance, which is this book. I don’t even know why I’m reading this book about the the people who ran the the central banks of the US, Germany, France and England in the period between World War One and World War Two. And what is interesting to your point, Emily, is first of all, in the period of the United States before the Civil War. It is true that we were committing one of the greatest crimes in humanity against slaves, but there was not an economic crisis, particularly in the United States. There was no the people of the United States. It was a growing country. It was a country that was largely prosperous. That was a it was a culture war, I mean, it had deep economic sources and there was this, you know, mass crime against humanity as part of it.
S1: But that wasn’t wasn’t being a way of life was at stake.
S3: Yeah, that’s number one. Number two, similarly, similarly, like in between World War One and World War Two, there have been huge economic devastation. And all of those countries went through terrible economic crises after during the war and then after the war. And there was an enormous shift in economic power. But the period when the Nazis rise to power, as I understand it, it’s not that it’s not that there is like that Germany is that the Germans, the very poor, they’d been very poor. They’d had a period of poverty in the early 20s. But as a whole, the country was in OK shape. That’s why they were able to arm themselves so quickly, become such a titanic economic power. So I wouldn’t say that I wouldn’t say the fact that there are jobs, the economy is recovering. You know, the sewers still carry the shit away and the electricity is still on. That doesn’t reassure me that much.
S1: Can I recommend a writer who I think I really, like, think about often in this context? Monica Potts, do you guys know her work? She lives in her hometown, rural Arkansas, and she’s writing a book about that town. She wrote a piece for The New York Times called In the Land of Self Defeat Over. And it’s about a fight over funding the local library in this town.
S2: Oh, yeah, really?
S1: Really. GetSet like what we’re trying to talk about in this way. That goes much deeper than I can articulate because Monica is like in the middle of all this. Anyway, we’ll put that piece in our show notes. But she is really a writer to watch on this topic.
S4: And and just along those lines the question of how you solve this problem, which Biden is talking about trying to solve. When we talk about bipartisanship, he actually, in his negotiations over the coveted relief bill, said to Republicans, or at least it was claimed, he was said by one of the Republicans who are in the meeting with him, said one of the things we have to to do is figure out how to listen to each other better. And he was getting at this idea, which is not just listen to each other about the numbers in in a bill, but to understand what is behind these raging anxieties and rage and this outrage as a way of trying to pierce it or minimize it or lower it or somehow get at it, because naming it is quite important to figure out how to get to it. But then you got to figure out how to get at it because otherwise it just continues to roil. May I just say one random thing about Marjorie Taylor Green on her Twitter page, I notice that she has the traditional line that says read tweets don’t equal endorsements. How does that work with her, given all the things that she’s endorsed and signed up to? Is that is it that she might back herself into a corner retweeting something that says the earth is round? It’s very odd.
S3: Let’s go to cocktail chatter when you are finished watching your French show for the evening. And you want to have a conversation with someone, what are you going to be chatting about with them?
S4: John Dickerson, I’m telling you about something I saw on Disruptive from the Twitter account of Vala Afshar.
S5: I hope I’m pronouncing his name right.
S4: He he works at Salesforce and has a really great Twitter account that’s just not poisonous and full of sort of useful, uplifting and thought-provoking things. But anyway, this disruptive Jim McKelvy was on and he is one of the founders of Square. So as you all everybody may know, Square is that cool little square that you when you buy something at a flea market with your credit card, it attaches the top of someone’s phone. He is an engineer. And when they originally designed the square, the most efficient way to make it was to make it long the length of a credit card. And it was efficient because it worked more often and better if it could swipe over a long period of space. But they purposely designed it as a square, which is slightly less effective because they thought if it looks longer, it’ll just look like any old credit card swipe thing. And people will say, Oh, you just swipe my credit card. Now give me my, you know, DC Comics first edition that I bought at your flea market by making it a square. It was less functional, but people would say, oh, what’s that cool thing? What’s and it would get buzz about the thing itself. And it seems to have worked because now they’re everywhere. But I thought that was a fascinating choice about design coming at the expense of efficiency for the purposes of of, you know, basically marketing.
S3: Emily, what’s your square chatter?
S1: The the piece I read this week that was just the most delectable to me ran in Slate. It is called the lousy tippers of the Trump administration. It’s by motoric. It’s Motza, really. VOYCE terrific writer who has been working, I think, at a high end restaurant in Washington, D.C. She appears to be married to a chef from this piece. And she just it’s like she’s been saving up all this material for four years about all the people from the Trump administration who showed up in her restaurant and the misdeeds, the difficulty of pleasing them. Dianne Feinstein also makes a kind of poor appearance in here. It’s just a really great social history of dining in Washington during this period. And I think I also loved it so much because it was about reading about eating at a restaurant, which I haven’t done in so long, who was particularly egregious. Steven Miller is the opening anecdote. He goes with his brother and I won’t give away the anecdote because it it should really be fully read and absorbed on the page. Who else makes an appearance in here? Gary Cohn. I couldn’t even remember some of these people. Oh, Wilbur Ross, you don’t get to be a billionaire by tipping a lot, that’s for sure. I guess not. I mean, Moe’s line about Wilbur Ross is, quote, He ordered the cheapest wine on the by the glass list and didn’t tip more than 14 percent, no matter how often you topped him off without charge. Anyway, lots of excellent detail. Does she name the restaurant? No, she doesn’t name the restaurant, although I’m sure you will know immediately because and in fact, I think you could Google it and figure it out because it’s like a place where, like the Obamas are going, everybody seems to have like standing blue duck tables. They’re what?
S4: I’m guessing it’s blue duck. The Obamas, OK, because President Obama’s.
S3: Office is near there, the Betsi I an amazing fact, which is that Trump never ate at a single D.C. restaurant except at his hotel.
S1: And she talks about what a difficulty that has been for high end restaurants in D.C. And you know, what they’ve been trying to do to somehow create gin up some kind of clientele with.
S3: It’s just wonderful. I didn’t actually read the story. I just saw the headline that the Trump Hotel is dead these days. There’s nobody in there. And it just shows you how much that was in emolument how much people were staying there simply to suck up to the Trump administration, not because it was like the best hotel in town or the most beautiful hotel in town. It was just like, oh, I, I want something from the Trump administration. I’m going to stay in this hotel. My chatter also about Vaine Vainglorious Misdeeds of the Rich is a wonderful story in the New York Times about 432 Park, which is a. Huge high rise, like an enormously high finger into the sky in Manhattan, one of the tallest residential buildings in the world, their apartments there that they’re almost all owned by shell companies, which are like seem to be controlled by Russian billionaires or Azeri oil magnates, or one case Jay and A-Rod owned owned an apartment there for a year, but the apartments cost up to eighty eight million dollars a year. Run of the mill apartment is 16 million dollars. What’s hilarious is that it seems to be a terrible place to live because if you live at the top of a really, really, really tall residential building, it’s very unpleasant. The elevators are constantly breaking the as the building sways, the metal makes a horrible whining, moaning, creepy noise so that your house, your apartment feels haunted by ghosts because they have plumbing that has to be gotten up. Fourteen hundred feet. Is it really high pressure? So when a high pressure valve busts, as it does because it’s under such stress, it will cause half a million dollars of plumbing damage to your apartment. And it’s this wonderful story about all these rich people, mostly anonymously complaining about how horrible it is to live in this tall tower. It’s great.
S4: May I ask you all a question? Both a question, which is, what is the highest floor on which you would be would feel comfortable living? Huh?
S1: I’ve never lived in an apartment building like I can’t I mean, for me it’s like the first floor, but it’s clearly not the right answer. I really don’t want to have to take an elevator. I hate elevators. I feel like that would drive me crazy.
S3: I even like up three floors.
S1: I know it’s really done well, though. Three floors. You could just walk that be fine.
S3: Well, but I figure a lot of bags. Not if you have a lot of bags, but like you could sometimes walk like, hmm, I’m looking at the fifth floor of my I’m in the fifth floor of my building and I wish I was on the 11th floor. Oh, I’m a tree tree love. The fifth floor of my building is actually really effectively the fourth floor. I think I would go pretty high. I don’t think I wouldn’t go to like 80, but I would I you know, I’ve had friends who lived on sort of 30th floor. We have Emily John. We have this mutual friend who has a wonderful apartment in San Francisco, which is up on a high floor. I would live in that apartment, read. Amazing. It’s one of the most beautiful apartment with it.
S1: Yeah. Make it on the 14th floor. And that elevator came pretty quickly.
S4: I don’t think I’d live much above 15 where I live. We’re having this discussion in the context of of living choices in in the city. And my family is basically there, particularly the kids there like I have. Sure. Fiftieth floor. That’s fine. I’m like, no way. Gava family. You think it’s scary are just like all the things that I am. I think in general, like I remember a person who has a kind of perimeter around him which is constantly being scanned for threats. And usually it is a horizontal perimeter. But when you’re up fifty floors, it’s it’s a vertical one. And I feel like you’re it’s like being underwater. I feel like I don’t know where the threats are coming from. And so when you’re on the fifth floor, I feel like you have 50. We have forty nine floors below you of just possible mayhem and mischief and and things like what David’s describing happening. Um, anyway, I like, you know, where we end up, please.
S1: We’re waiting with bated breath.
S3: Listeners, you have continued to send us great chatter at at Slate Gabfest. The things that you’re talking about, your cocktail parties, your imaginary or imaginary nonexistent cocktail parties, cocktail parties in your head, please keep them coming. And we’ve as we we started something last week that I we’re going to try to continue, which is instead of me discussing your cocktail chatter, we’re going to ask you to do it. If we like your chatter, we’re going to reach out and ask you. And this week, our listener chatter comes from Philip Cleveland. Hi, Emily, David and John.
S9: My name is Philip. And I listen and chatter is a beautiful tweet read by Mark Miller that tells the story of a 100 year old photo of his great aunt Leslie and her son, Robert. He keeps in his home the photo as a springboard for Mark to tell the story of Leslie and her life as a lesbian in the early twentieth century. I won’t spoil the full thread, but Mark lovingly writes about Leslie’s life, her partner Lusia, his greatest decision to marry, to conceive her son and so much more.
S2: That is our show for today. The Gabfest is produced by Jocelyn Frank. Our researcher is Bridget Dunlap. Gabriel Roth is editorial director, Slate audio, June Thomas as managing producer. And Alicia Montgomery is executive producer of Slate podcasts. Follow us on Twitter at at Slate Gabfests. And please tweet your listener chatterer to us. They are Emily Bazelon, John Dickerson and David Plotz. Thanks for listening and we will talk to you next week. Keep your computer.
S3: Space laser slate plus hello, Slate plus, that’s a space laser sound from John Hazlet plus. How are you? Good, glad to hear it. So we have decided on next week’s Slate plus topic and we have a little bit of homework for you listeners if you want to be able to fully participate. We’re going to talk about in and of itself, which is the incredible, for lack of a better term film about magic by Derek Delgaudio that’s available on Hulu. And you’ll probably enjoy our discussion more next week if you get a chance to see it. And you’ll certainly enjoy your life a lot more if you get a chance to see it, because it’s quite magnificent. So next week we’ll talk about in and of itself and we hope you get a chance to watch it before we do that today.
S7: Slate plus idea comes from a listener, Norman Townsend, who wanted to know more about David’s project. David’s, you have started this amazingly interesting project to bring news podcasting to different cities and to have the kind of fun, effervescent reporting and commentary of podcasting in a way that the people of, say, Denver or Chicago might enjoy.
S1: I think those are the cities you’re starting with. But I know the plan is to branch out from there. So tell us how it’s going, what we can look forward to and maybe what some of the challenges are.
S3: All right. Thank you. What? I’m so shocked he wanted me. I don’t I, I don’t even know what to say. Let me take out my 500 page notebook. The so as as I’ve mentioned on this show before, and as I mention at the top of it, I’m now running a company called City Cast and City Cast. I began in the fall and now here we are in the winter. And like what happened to city cast? What is this plot? Even the working is he just lying on his couch? No, no. I have not just been lying on my couch. I’ve been preparing to really build something. And the thing that I’m building with a wonderful team that I’ve hired is going to be a network of daily local podcasts and newsletters and cities around the country. We’re going to start in Denver and Chicago. I announced that this week, probably do a third city in twenty twenty one and then sort of see how it goes. Then hopefully will become a network of twenty fifty one hundred thousand one day all over the world of city cars. And initial ones are going to launch in March, Monday to Friday, becoming to every morning there’ll be a newsletter and there’ll be a podcast which will be connected, but they’ll be separate products obviously, because one is audio and one is one is digital text. What we don’t really need in the world or we don’t need as much as we think we do is more information about our world or our community. We need to we need to care more about them. And so what we’re building is a set of podcast around really passionate hosts and these hosts. I think if you’re listen to the gabfest, I imagine that you feel you you you know you know us a little bit. And if you think about podcasts you listen to, they are probably podcast where you have a kind of a real emotional connection to the host or somebody who you appreciate you want to spend time with. I hope you want to spend time with us. Podcasting, I think, is a pretty mediocre informational medium. It’s not a great place to get a set of information, whereas a piece of paper is a great way to get some information. Podcasting is not because whatever we’ve just said has now vanished. It’s gone back. It’s like it back in time and you can’t go track it down. But what podcasting is, is an amazing emotional medium and a way of making connections with people. And so what we’re going to build is this daily podcast whose purpose is really to make people care more about their cities. And it will be interview based and it’ll be about the news of the day. It’ll be about some subject that was just particularly gripping in Denver or Chicago that day, but with a host who who’s whose mandate from for me is to find a way to make people feel something about this. In that sense, in some ways, it’s it’s more like the old timey newspaper columnist Jimmy Breslin, of your what Oprah Winfrey was when she was at and Chicago or even a little bit like what right wing talk radio is, which is that the purpose? The purpose is feeling like audio is the most feeling medium because of the power of the human voice. And we’re going to build podcasts that are designed not we’re not going to go into news deserts and suddenly become the prime source of information. Those cities, we’re going to go into cities that have really robust, strong media ecosystems. We want and we want to highlight the great work that’s being done by the journalists in those cities and to make people aware and caring about the issues that matter most in those cities. And we’re going to try to do that every day in. Podcast forms, it’s something as you’re on your commute and you just kind of want to check in on what’s what really matters in Denver today, you’ll get a little news bulletin from us and then you’ll get this sort of 10, 15, 20 minute conversation about some set of some issue that really will matter to you and make you make you care more about the city you’re living in that day. When I think about the host that we’ve hired, we’ve hired in Chicago a guy named Jacoby Cochran, who’s an amazing storyteller and and teacher who doesn’t he’s not really a journalist. And in Denver, a woman named Bree Davis, who similarly is a is an activist and she’s a podcast but is not she’s not a traditional journalist. But there are people who love their city more than anybody else. And they also think it’s more fucked up than anybody else does. And I want them to be able to convey that love and that fucked up edness in podcast form. That’s our hope. And then to do that in those cities and then your city, another city and another city until until we’ve we’ve helped build community and connection across the country.
S7: And why not go to news deserts.
S3: That’s a really valuable service, but it requires a staff that’s probably three or four or five times the size of what what we can afford right now. I hope that one day we’ll be able to be a prime news source. That’s not something that we’re able to do. I also don’t think that podcasting or is a great way to redress a news desert. It doesn’t have podcasting can’t be urgent. It’s time shifted. People can’t hear it in the moment, whereas a newspaper can be constantly updated, a TV show can be constantly updated, radio is constantly updated. Podcasts cannot be constantly updated because it has to fit and live. And so that’s not a great way to get news to people. Do you mean a great way to get context and feeling to people?
S4: Do you mean it can’t be timely? Not that it can’t be urgent because.
S3: Because well, it can be done. It can be timely. Just can’t be can’t be breaking. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
S4: We talked about last week our own news and organizational habits, but what did you learn about human being other human beings on the planet and kind of what they listen to, how they listen, what their habits are?
S3: Well, the cities that we’re choosing to start with, Denver and Chicago, both are actually really interesting and robust. And what’s interesting about them is that they have pretty they had historically pretty good newspapers that have really gone south and are much, much weaker and. What has arisen in that place is a mix of interesting, very local efforts in Chicago, this great venture called Block Club, there’s something called tribe. There’s a there’s a ProPublica has a has a Chicago based venture. And then the public public radio and public media is really strong. But there everything is is it’s patchwork and pretty narrowly consumed. So there’s not there’s no sort of centralizing force. It’s like everything. It’s fractured, it’s fractured into communities. And similarly, in Denver, it’s it’s it’s fractionated. And I don’t I’m not like. Hubristic enough to think that city cast will be the unifying force, because it’s really hard to be the voice of a community. It’s like you can only be a voice of a community that speaks with millions of voices. And it’s it’s not it’s not possible for there to be a centralizing, unifying force in the way we imagine that that once upon a time, Jimmy Breslin was. But to say one thing I’ve learned is just there is the the central newspaper thing which held which kind of was the center of gravity just doesn’t exist anymore. Instead, they’re these they’re these weaker forces that are more distributed but which don’t have which don’t have the kind of audiences. I think there’s a huge, huge appetite in people’s like people speak to a huge appetite to want to be more connected to their community. I think there’s in cities, there’s a there’s been a there’s been a Trump addiction and a kind of sickness around national politics that a lot of people are kind of tired of and that cities are this place where there’s been an urgent it’s been so fucking urgent in the last couple of years because of Black Lives Matter, because of police violence, because of the way the pandemic has murdered the economic life of cities and exposed the kind of inequities in cities. And and so there’s there’s this enormous sense, like the the key issues of American life are really they exist within cities. And yet there’s also been people, at least in the kind of liberal, progressive, politically active people have just been like Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump. I think people want a relief from that. So anyway, if you’re interested in learning more about city cars, please go to city cast dot form. And if you’re interested in Denver, go to City Kest from Denver and Chicago City Casaus FM slash Chicago and there’ll be more information there. And you can sign up for our newsletter and get alerted when we when we launch the podcast. And I really hope, you know, I could use advice and and support from the gabfests community. So I hope you’ll check it out. Thank you. Plus.