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Welcome to the twenty fifth episode of Love It or Leave It Back in the closet, Jon Lovitz back in the closet. Jon. He says he's in the closet. That incredible song was sent in by Nicholas Connors, and we want to use a new one each week, so if you want to make a theme song, you can send it to us and leave it at Gay.com, at least avy it Akagi Dotcom, and maybe we'll use yours. It's a new dedicated email.
Send us a song. Send us an idea before we get to the show. There are only 10 weekends left between now and the election, so make them count. This weekend our adopted state program is hosting a special weekend of action to help Democrats take back the Senate, sign up to adopt a state advocate, save America, dot com slash, adopt and we'll send you details about what you can do to help from home. I've adopted Pennsylvania. I would like to be part of this weekend of action with you.
You need to sign up if you haven't signed up yet. A lot of you haven't. Look, I know how many people have signed up and I know how many people listen to the show. All right. So I know a lot of you haven't signed up yet, so please do it. Vote, Save America, dot, slash, adopt. Also, there's a new episode of Missing America Out. Now, this week, Ben talks to an anonymous Hong Kong activist about the daily marches and protests taking place in Hong Kong.
And they sound the alarm on the dangers of growing authoritarianism. New episodes of Missing America are out on Tuesday as described wherever you listen to podcasts. So we've been recording all week. So you'll hear some segments from Tuesday, some from Wednesday, some from Thursday as we cover the Republican National Convention and everything else that's been going on this week. As we go through the episode, I'll make clear when we recorded each one because of that, we'd also like to say that our thoughts are with the people in the path of Hurricane Laura because we were recording this in advance.
We don't know exactly what will happen, but we just hope everyone in the Gulf is being safe and evacuating when they need to. Later in the show, we'll be joined by Vibranium and Erin Ryan to talk about the RNC. We'll talk to Alicia Garza about the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin and the protests that have followed. And we'll talk to Mayor Alex Morris about his primary challenge to Congressman Richard Neal. But first, she's a journalist, co-founder of Recode and co-host of the podcast Pivot.
Please welcome back returning champion Kara Swisher.
Hi. How are you doing? How's it going? Thank you for being here.
Thanks for agreeing to judge the monologue. Let's get into it.
What a week. What a week. We are recording this on Wednesday, which means we have witnessed the first two days of the Republican convention. And boy, am I triggered. Yeah, you feel triggered, Kara. It's all supposed to be so triggering.
No, I'm not I'm not going to let this bother me. I'm not going to let the craziness get to me. Are you ready? Because I've written what I believe is the best joke maybe in history. Go for it. Let me hear them here. So I just you just need to know that this is as good as it gets in terms of comedy, or is it a hatcheck joke?
Because most of America doesn't care about the Hatch Act. And I feel like I've been told it's not a winner for the Democrats.
Here it is with this RNC, we've replaced Eva Longoria with even longer and boring a no, it's not boring.
It's also not boring right now. That's really bad. It's not boring.
So you just take issue with the substance.
Obviously, it's a great, really great joke. But the substance didn't work for you know, it's not a truly great joke at all because it's not boring.
It's not boring. It's so you can't look away. You cannot look away, whether it's Malani in the Rose Garden, whether it's the breakdown of Kimberly Guilfoyle, which was just and then the means that Avadon jaw situation, whatever it is, let's not judge the sunshine.
Yeah. Melania look like she was leading a hunter at Vogue.
I know. Exactly. I kept someone was saying, I wonder how much she was paid to walk down the colonnade. She got rid of the trees so they could do a catwalk kind of situation. Did you notice that there was a cat?
Is that right? So they can have the crane shot, I guess? I don't know. Just I it is very interesting to watch whether it's Tim Scott who did very well, you know, to compare and contrast them and how they're the stories they're putting out.
And I think it's interesting. There's no question it's not interesting.
I do think one of the the lessons that I take away from how this convention has unfolded is that when the quote unquote, normal politicians Tim Scott, Nikki Haley Pompeo, Rand Paul, what have you, how comfortable a lot of political coverage is with Trump ism when it is put in the language of normal politics. That's what I mean when it's not the kind of raving lunatic Kim Guilfoile or Don Joe or Eric, when it's not the kind of obvious norm violating, when it's the kind of more insidious brand, people are quite comfortable with it.
And that's dangerous.
Well, my mom, a Fox News watcher, was like that. Tim Scott is lovely. And I was like, oh, God.
And what I'm interested in how they're trying really hard to make it seem like a lot of women, a lot of people of color, you can watch them like going, oh, we need this here.
All we need you can sort of see, like all politicians do this. Of course it's not. But it's really you can just watch the pieces being put in place in this particular show.
Oh, it's very yes. It's very, um, paint by numbers. It's not subtle at all. It's like we need to win Maine. Let's talk about the lobsters in Maine. We need to win with these voters in Florida. So let's get someone to talk about Cuba and socialism. We need to up our support from suburban women. So let's get testimonial from Kellyanne Conway. It's like they're going through their checklist of people they want to reach. Yep.
One hundred percent, Wisconsin and the dairy. I mean, they've done it all. So ahead of the convention, the party announced that there was no twenty, twenty platform this year other than to reassert the. Party's strong support for President Donald Trump and his administration, but based on the first two nights, I think the Republican message is clear. America is the greatest country in the history of the world, on the verge of total collapse. It's an extremely free country where we have been silenced and oppressed.
We are strong, but we are powerless victims. Democrats are responsible for mass incarceration, which is bad, and now they want to empty the prisons, which is also bad. Democrats only hate Trump and they have no policies. This is in contrast to the Republicans who love Trump and have one policy a policy of loving Trump. Democrats celebrate criminals like Black Lives Matter protesters who haven't broken any laws, while Republicans celebrate noncriminals like that young couple that was charged with a felony.
The best Republican is Donald Trump, who work tirelessly to free American citizens who are held hostage by dictators who Trump must admit were very nice to him. Trump must admit this on camera, and though the segment is pre-recorded, it must not be edited out for reasons that must remain mysterious. But most important of all, America is not racist. Just take it from these racists.
Yeah, yeah, you got it. That's pretty good. That's pretty good. You forgot immigration in there that the immigration segment.
Oh, right. That guy. Yes. And we are, of course, a nation that celebrates people who become citizens while I do my best to prevent anyone from immigrating to this country. And right now, right now, Trump is slowing down naturalization ceremony to prevent immigrants from being able to vote.
That was the worst, I think, of all of it. That was the most appalling. It was it was an insult to people who want to be American citizens. And it was just to use them as props was really, really depressing. That was a depressing moment.
It was very sad. It was very hard to watch because it takes something beautiful and wonderful and good and just sells it and makes it vulgar. And for Trump and Bolgar, I've said this before, but like there's a quality of fighting Trump's authoritarian tendencies. That's a bit like fighting a pandemic in that the steps you take to prevent the decline of our democracy, if they succeed, look like overkill in hindsight. Sure do. But what is striking to me in this moment, and this is actually true when you go back and read about authoritarian rises in other places, it is always a combination of danger and stupidity.
They do go hand in hand. They do there is a ridiculousness that is part and parcel with the threat that it poses. And I do. And it's strange to live through it, to see it in real time. How is it that everything can be so important and so stupid at the same time? It's hard to process.
The issue is this is someone who has authoritarian tendencies but is someone incompetent. So the question is what if a really competent a relatively it doesn't take that much to be a bully, really doesn't. It takes like a few different things, seizing the media, seizing, you know, attacking the media, attacking institutions. You know, it's sort of a playbook. There's an authoritarian playbook. But I think it's really hard to know if he can follow through on them.
Like you think about all the things the wall didn't really work. A lot of it does work, of course, the quiet stuff that's behind the scenes, but a lot of the louder stuff or maybe that's the point, is to make us exhausted by the entire thing one after the next. And I think it does play into this.
You know, I always talk about tech, but the social media exhaustion, it floods the zone in such a way that it's impossible to police impossible. So the hatcheck we're going to let that one go like, oh, whatever. He's using the White House. I think we do a lot of whatevers because we can't look over here. Someone's in real distress versus over here where they're just sort of shoplifting and stuff like that.
You know, there's this, I think, conventional wisdom, which I think is fair, that impeachment as an issue is in many ways counterproductive. But that doesn't mean it wasn't right to impeach him because we don't live in the counterfactual world where Democrats are demoralized because no one ever stood up to this person and went through the motions of impeachment as he's breaking the law again and again in the same way, I understand why there's this sort of political argument against focusing on norm violation, because there's this presumption that people don't care.
But my two issues, there are one. Well, people have a funny way of caring about the things you tell them to care about. There's no kind of straight media for the Dialis American that tells people what's important and what's not. While the political pundits analyze how that message is received, there's only political analysis. And have you have you all decide collectively that people don't care? That's how the media will tell them not to care. But the other piece of this is I wonder what it would feel like now if there was a more proactive, aggressive, Democratic point person in the House who just was like a goalie that never let anything go by.
That's Cortez, Alexander Castillo, Cortez. Really, she's well with the support of the institution, right? Yeah.
I mean, there's there's a number of them. There's a number of people who do push back. There's Katie Porter. There's all kinds of people who push back super hard on lots of things. The question is, how long can you look like the opposition or enough like how long they then you do sort of fall into that complaint.
It's sort of like being the press talking about Facebook. You know, it took a long time before everyone was like, oh, look, Karen, many of the others are right, but it took a long time. And people saying, aren't you going to shut up about that? You know what I mean? A long time before people started to pay attention.
And so I think it's really hard to constantly be in opposition because you just are like you look like sort of a school. And that's really the what's really interesting about that, the convention, the Republican convention, it's looked so I don't know how old you are, but it looked like the 80s. It felt like the 80s.
I was like, oh, my God, we're back in like, I don't know the you know, the big booming 80s of New York kind of thing.
Like even the colors. It was, you know, the way the garden look, the way she looked and all those sort of Barbie doll women that came up one after the next. It was really interesting that we're we're not we're not in the 20 20s.
I'll tell you that my my most vivid memory of the 1980s is seeing the film batteries not included in the theater.
And so the movie. What movie is that? The little aliens, they come down and they help a an apartment complex in either Brooklyn or the Bronx from a rapacious developer. So sort of fit the moment. I believe Jessica Tandy was in it.
All right. I'm thinking more Flashdance and Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous in Dallas and Dynasty and that kind of stuff. That's what it feels like a lot of a lot of shoulder pads. I have a shoulder pad feel for the whole thing.
Yes. This convention is in many ways a shoulder pad on the conservative movement. Yeah. You know, false and puffed up. And ultimately, in hindsight, something will come to regret. Speaking of some of these other speakers, anti-immigration activist Mary Ann Mendoza was scheduled to speak at the RNC, but after it was discovered that she tweeted anti-Semitic conspiratorial messages, she was pulled from the convention lineup and given Kellyanne Conway a job. Yeah. Oh, she was.
She's it. No, no, that's a joke.
OK, good. You see, I believed it because it could happen.
Oh, that's so dark. It could happen.
We look at Richard Grenell is running national security and making ads for Log Cabin. So don't even today with me, you know, we're not going to say I can't.
We're not the gays cannot speak. The gays cannot speak for this gay. That's all I'm going to say. Right. We just have to be quiet and be like that guy. No, like that guy.
That guy. Oh, wow. Yeah, yeah. I don't like it. I don't like it. Now, legal experts, legal experts are saying that the Republican National Convention is violating the Hatch Act. Specifically, Donald Trump Jr violated the Hatch Act, which forbids speakers from looking like they emerged or hatch from some kind of large gooey alien egg.
That's not Don Jr. gave his dodging here, gave a speech with the glasses of a once celebrated TV actor who keeps coming back from the bathroom at Carcassonne excited to talk about writing a memoir.
It was the red ball.
In fact, he made an ad. He made a video with Richard Grenell. I was like, oh, I didn't want to.
The low point of the broadcast was when Don Junior's girlfriend, Kimberly Guilfoyle, woke me up from a sound sleep. I do think it's an absurd suggestion that Don Junior was on drugs because Kimberly Guilfoyle spoke with the passion of a woman who finished the drugs.
She's her transfer me, you know, I knew her back in San Francisco when she was married to Gavin Newsom. Mm hmm. She was a different lady, although insights.
I'll tell you I'll tell you one story. I'm going to tell you there was an event, a gay event. She appeared in his stead when he was mayor. And I forget it was like human rights, fun, national, gay and lesbian, whatever. One of those dinners, you've been to America. Right. And so I was sitting sort of near the front and, you know, it's a San Francisco crowd, so we can take a lot.
You know what I mean? You can be pretty dirty there.
You know, it can be wild and stuff that her speech was so filthy.
Like I enjoyed it that even the gays of San Francisco were like, stop, please.
Our ears are like it was I was sort of like, wow, she's an interesting person.
She's naughty, she's naughty. It was a naughty speech.
Let me just say, we have learned from one thing about Kimberly Guilfoyle, which is whatever she's going for, she's going 100 percent going.
And she was so liberal. I remember it was like so liberal. So I love San Francisco. So this and that.
And then, like, she's maintained the same, like, level of intensity, that's for sure.
That's for sure. And I think in her speech, Kim did what she set out to do, which is get to the prenup negotiation phase. Also this week, the president of Liberty University, Jerry Falwell Jr., resigned after he came to light that he used the evangelical schools money to pay a hotel pool attendant to sleep with his wife while he watched. This must be so humiliating for Falwell, which is turning him on as we speak.
So I can't I you know what? I'm not going to I'm not going to shame him for his thing. I'm not shaming.
Yeah, I'm not shaming. You think I'm shaming him? No. I think you have your fun. Jerry Falwell Jr.. Just stop telling the rest of us how to live. Agree?
I agree. That is really where the the rubber meets the road.
Wildfires continue to rage in northern and central California, the largest of which was spurred by the rare weather phenomenon of dry lightning during a widespread heat wave. This follows an incredibly destructive storm in Iowa. As we were recording this, a potentially devastating hurricane is heading towards the Gulf Coast. But on the bright side, nothing comes to mind and nothing comes to mind.
Also this week, the CDC quietly revised its recommendations, now claiming people without covid-19 symptoms do not need testing, despite research showing that about half of transmission events occur before any symptoms have presented themselves at all. But most experts agree that the continuation of asymptomatic testing is necessary and preventative, like brushing your teeth an hour before bed because you don't know for sure that when the edible hits are going to go for the cookie dough. But you can take steps now to make it less likely.
I mean, hypothetically, hypothetically, this week, a UNC study found that wearing your mask below your nose could increase your risk of catching the coronavirus. It sounds obvious, but it's actually a really surprising reason the coronavirus can go in your nose. Yeah, can go in your nose.
What kind of message do you have? Do you have the plain old, plain old one or. I have I cycle through the kind of surgical masks, through cloth masks, and I have some of those cayenne 95. So depending on the how the mood strikes me. Yeah.
I'm just wondering if you if you match your clothes with your mask and you do that kind of thing. So I don't do that. I do not. The homosexuality in me probably will not and has not allowed me to wear a black mask with a Navy shirt or a Navy mask with a black shirt. I will not do that. That will not happen. OK, but otherwise I've been pretty forgiving in terms of fashion.
Well, you're kind of a straight guy. Gay guy, right? Seems like with that hat, I don't know. I sort of reject I reject the premise of that. I say, OK, I reject the hetero normative idea. The way that I dress is gay because a gay person dresses that way. I see. How about that?
You are OK. Fine. You are lesbian as I've always long maintained.
And look, I love a skinny Jean. I love a colorful shoe. I love a pink pant. I live in myself to some darker T-shirts. But honestly, mostly that's because when I was doing live shows, I just like profusely sweat. Yeah. Yeah. And that's not a that's not a gay or straight thing. No, no. I don't think.
No, no I don't keep moving. Yeah. Keep moving. Keep going.
Emily Miller, the new spokesperson for the FDA, is a former political strategist who has shared coronavirus misinformation and conspiracy theories on social media. Look, over one hundred and seventy five thousand people in the U.S. have died from covid. And I'm just glad somebody is trying to get that number down.
Yeah, yeah. I don't know what to say. There's nothing to say. Nothing to that. We have empowered the the worst human beings in public life.
Yes, we have all the misinformation. There's so many covid misinformation like, you know, Peter Navarro. I just can't believe that's the kind of thing that drives me crazy.
And they continued clinging to hydroxy chloroquine. The fact that these recommendations on covid testing or after pressure from Trump, that he is not just in the way of solving this, he is actively making our jobs harder.
The head of the FDA had to walk back his statements. He's a doctor. He's an apologist. It's malpractice of some sort.
It's really that surprises me the most.
I mean, look, Navarro is crazy, right? Obviously, you can see every time he opens his mouth, but like these other people that then go along with it. I just don't I don't know what kind of thing goes in your head when you have to do that.
I just hope there are people who just haven't thought deeply about what it looks like to do the right thing. And there's no siren blaring. There's no one making it easy and a lot of denial and a lot of cravenness.
Kraven Grifter's craves Kraven Creighton's a good word. I'm going to use that word. It is.
It is because it captures both selfishness and cowardice, greed and greed with angry.
With angry. That's right. Greed and cowardice. I would think that's right.
That's right. Yeah. Nice nice work.
The University of Alabama said that 531 cases have been identified among students, faculty and staff since class resumed at its Tuscaloosa campus last week. This leads us to conclude that coronavirus spreads faster on college campuses than other major threats, like leftism turning ultimate Frisbee into an identity and majoring in communications.
And, you know, my son is in quarantine at NYU right now. Oh, really? Oh, yeah. Some classes from my dorm room in college. I know, right. I know about the experience you you hope for. No. And he missed the Prah.
Everything else that's interesting is this. These these students will be an interesting how they are later.
They're going to be weird in ways we can't predict. No, that's true. These super spreaders and look, some of us didn't go to prom and it wasn't because of coronaviruses.
Oh, OK. Also, I went to four proms. That's a lesson. I was very popular.
You know what? Only a person with the confidence of having gone to four proms could make wearing sunglasses indoors part of her brand, Quatro frat's.
That's the only one prom. Why didn't you go that you want me to take you to prom or something? No, I don't. I'm I'm really good at it.
The British government, in an attempt to help the restaurant economy, has started an initiative that pays fifty percent of any diners bills on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Meanwhile, the US government has this idea to promote the economy where they divide the country into districts and each district sends to young people to the capital for a special kind of competition, kind of like the Olympics. But get this, it's life or death. Is it risky? Sure it is.
But the ratings have been amazing.
The music from the Republican National Convention sounds like The Hunger Games. Did you notice that in between?
It's I did notice it. I mean, really what it is, is that The Hunger Games music is inspired by fascistic music. And Republican Party is now a proto fascistic right wing movement. And so they are aligning.
But it was the music they play when someone dies. Remember when they put everyone on? Yeah, yeah. Let's listen to it. It's the I was like, it sounds exactly the same.
And finally on Monday to. Talks sued the U.S. government, accusing the Trump administration of depriving it of due process when President Trump issued an executive order to block the app in the U.S.. Tick Tock said they will only drop the charges if Donald Trump films himself sitting in a chair, crossing his legs and throwing a shoe in the air and on beat. Just as the shoe is about to hit his foot, he transforms into President Joe Biden.
That would be nice. That would be nice. Tick tock, tick tock. Tick tock, tick tock. You know, I. I have I deleted it from my phone both because of, I think the China virus, the China virus, but also because I found that it reminds me, like David Carr said this about Twitter, that you dip a finger in and it eats bites off your arm. Yeah. And what I found is with tick tock, you could just scroll and scroll and scroll.
And the algorithm, you know, first was showing me hot guys cooking, glassblowing and furniture and slowly got down to my interests, which are hot guys and new ways of making grilled cheese. And I was like, this is getting out of control. I got to get this thing off my phone. I do not think this is good for my brain. Yeah. Kara Swisher, thank you so much for being here, as always.
So good to see you. And I appreciate it. Have a good week. I hope you enjoy the rest of the convention.
Thanks to Kara Swisher for joining us. When we come back, we'll be joined by Alicia Garza. Don't go anywhere.
There's more of love it or leave it coming up.
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Love it and we're back. She is the principal of Black Futures Lab, cocreator of Black Lives Matter, host of the podcast Lady Don't Take No Alicia Garza. Welcome back. Good to see you.
Thank you so much for having me. It's good to be with you again. Thanks for taking the time. So I want to start by talking about Jacob Blake, a black man who was shot seven times in the back by a white police officer while his kids were sitting in the car. Protests have erupted. And then last night there was a young white man who killed two people in Kenosha. He was just arrested. And there's been some pretty shocking comments from the police chief there.
What are you seeing as these protests unfold that looks different or that has changed since protests erupted after George Floyds killing? What what how is this story changing and how is it not changing?
Let's start with how it's not changing.
You know, at the same time that we're seeing all of these very brutal videos and murders, we are also in the midst of the Republican National Convention, which they haven't really made mention of the various murders that have happened across the country. But they are actually running on a platform of law and order while also not doing much to establish a law and order that is just and that actually saves black lives. I think what we're also seeing as protests across the country that have not stopped since the murder of George Floyd, that certainly are reminiscent of the protests that we've been seeing in this country since 2013 with the acquittal of George Zimmerman in 2014, with the murder of Mike Brown and the subsequent refusal to hold accountable Officer Darren Wilson.
And the list of names goes on and on. I think what is different is that we are actually seeing such a wide swath of America participating in these protests. Right before I jumped on to talk with you, I saw the NBA and some of the teams are refusing to play today to bring attention to the fact that over and over we are seeing black death be justified and we're not actually seeing the kind of policy change or the change in our culture or practice that can, frankly, prevent these kinds of deaths and these kinds of murders.
And so on the one hand, I'm feeling like here we go again. Right. And what is it going to take actually to ensure the dignity and well-being of everybody in this country? And on the other hand, I have a deep amount of hope and gratitude to all the people who refuse to shut it down. And when I look at what happened in Wisconsin today and last night, I think that it's an unfortunate consequence of there being no consequences.
And what we're learning about this young man who was 17 years old is that he was being groomed to be a police officer. And yet we're still tap dancing around what it means to hold police accountable. When policing goes wrong in our communities, we're still tap dancing around what it means to establish and ensure that people can live full and dignified lives. I think about the sibling of Jacob Blake, who literally said, all of my life I've been watching this kind of dynamic happen all of my life.
I've been surrounded by this kind of death. Nobody in this country should have to make that kind of statement and what we need in this moment. Is real and clear and concise leadership that has a plan for that. That's not just going to trot out black people to help hold up their agenda, but in fact, is going to address what's happening in black communities across this nation. And unfortunately, we're certainly not seeing it with this president. We'll see what happens in November.
But I have to say, there are some big changes that need to be made. And we do need to see some increased courage amongst our political leaders because we just spent the last week, every single day talking about Black Lives Matter, whether it be an alphabet blocks behind Elizabeth Warren or whether it be with the first lady. But yet when it comes to actually making black lives matter, we're hearing too much silence in the face of unmitigated murder and death.
This Republican convention, as it's been unfolding, it's not just that the Republicans seem to have a message that's meant to assuage white supporters like we're not racists, like you don't need to feel bad about America, which is another way of saying you don't need to feel bad about Trump. You know, Donald Trump, in his words and actions and and now in this convention, has elevated people like that St. Louis gun couple, elevated people who take matters into their own hands, praising the people that showed up in Charlottesville.
Even if you accept that what he's talking about is people defending a statute, which, of course, he wasn't talking about. You were still talking about vigilantism. That's right. In defense of the white prerogative to celebrate the Confederacy or what have you. So it seems like they're both trying to sort of claim that the U.S. is not a racist country to defend Trump and his supporters while also elevating people like this boy who was sort of patted on the back, even by police as this was unfolding.
That's right. Now, on the on the other hand, we now see today something extraordinary, which is, you know, NBA teams refusing to play until they can talk to the A.G. of Wisconsin. What impact do you think that has been? Even just last night, there was a video of Doc Rivers, a coach, talking about how much this has hurt him, how this affects him deeply. What does it do when people outside of politics, when athletes, leaders like this, take on this mantle?
Well, I think what it does is it proves that this is actually a movement. And it makes me emotional, really, to know that these players are putting their livelihoods on the line because somebody else's life was taken away. And they're not doing that to have a platform. They're using their platforms in ways that are strategic. As you said, they're refusing to play until they can meet with the attorney general to talk about what kind of accountability will be meted out.
But I would also assume that what they want to have a conversation about is what are you doing long term to ensure that black lives are not being extinguished in this way? And that's important. It's important to me to see people like LeBron James tweeting today. And I believe, you know, his exact words were, fuck this man, stop killing us. That's right. And I think that that hits in all of our guts. And, you know, right now we are watching the most extreme faction of this country try to hold on to power.
And we are seeing a movement that is emerging and growing because of their obstinance and because of their dedication to actually ensuring that only some lives matter. And it's really not rocket science. What we're seeing is things that we've seen over and over again when Dylann Roof walked into a church in Charleston, you know, years ago and, you know, murdered people. What we know is that Dylann Roof is still alive. What we know is that police offered him Burger King before taking him into custody.
It's the same with this young man in Wisconsin. So much of the time we see these very stark contrast, Jacob Blake, as somebody who was deescalating a conflict. He was somebody who was breaking up a fight. He was somebody who was a father and a son and a brother. And, you know, by the grace of God, he's still alive. Of course, all of that we're hearing is that he's currently paralyzed from the waist down because he was shot in the back seven times as he was walking away.
But then, of course, when we see this kind of aggression that is being encouraged by this president who calls himself a leader, we also see a way in which we're validating people, taking the law into their own hands under the guise of law and order. And for a 17 year old right to pick up a gun and to go to a protest and to shoot multiple people, killing at least one person, I can't help but think to myself, you know, at 17, I had my whole life in front of me.
At 17 years old, I was thinking about what kind of an adult I was going to be. This young person picked up a gun and murdered somebody. And, you know, he doesn't have any more life in front of him, quite frankly, unless this president uses his power to do what he's been doing, which is pardon people for doing the. Wrong thing, rather than using his power and his platform to lift people up who are doing the right thing.
So, again, I feel emotional when I see people, you know, taking steps to use their platforms to make change. And I think it's something that every single American needs to do right now. This is not a time to encourage vigilantism. This is a time for us to be coming together to change the direction that this country has gone in. And frankly, I worry that things are coming to a boiling point.
It's been talked about in other kinds of violence like this, but like stochastic terrorism, this idea that when someone like Trump just pumps all this hate into this world, pumps all this negativity, this divisiveness, this this fear, saying, oh, there's going to be chaos, they're going to burn down the suburbs, they're going to come for you, they're coming for you. He's not directing any one person to take action. He's not telling any one person to be a vigilante.
But if you say it enough, you can expect that out there, there will be people that follow Trump's words to its logical conclusion that this kid went to a Trump rally. He's been paying attention. Whatever we learn about this boy, whatever was wrong, whatever happened here, what we can be sure of is that he was not misunderstanding Donald Trump. That's right. And so it seems like we have to do two things. We have to figure out how to cordon off this contagious idea being spread by the president about vigilantism while at the same time figuring out the positive message that we all have to share and put out there.
So it's a terrifying prospect because it does feel as though there's a bunch of other people out there just like this who are watching this unfold right now. And the vast majority of people are horrified, but enough people are going to think it's a pretty cool idea. I agree with you 100 percent. And whether it be the couple out of St. Louis to this young person last night, I think what is real is that this president is relying on fear and anxiety as a platform for his own power.
And that's really the saddest part of all of this, is that so many people are being swept up into his chaos. That really only benefits him. That couple in St. Louis, you know, their economic status is not going to change. You know, their lives are not going to change for the better because of this president. But he's selling snake oil for his own personal benefit. And that's what makes it so terrible. You know, I have to be honest here, when I think about what's happening in Wisconsin, I just can't help but think like actually Jacob Blake's family is traumatized and they are losing so much.
And also the family of this young man must be traumatized knowing that their 17 year old child, you know, picked up a gun and shot people and killed a person. And when I think about all of these lives that are being shattered right now, I can't help but think that none of this is necessary. Absolutely none of it is actually all preventable. And the first way that we prevent this is by preventing the most extreme faction of the worst part of our humanity from continuing to hold power in this country.
I know you and I have been talking about this now for years. And, you know, at first we start off and we're like, oh, my God, how could this have happened? Right. But also, let's make the best of it until we get to 2020. Well, here we are. We are in 2020. We are just 70 days away from the most consequential election in my lifetime. And if we don't like what's going on in this country right now, regardless of how you feel about the police or Black Lives Matter or what the fuck ever, one thing you can know is that you can change the direction that this country is headed in.
Black Lives Matter is not the greatest threat to this nation. Quite frankly, the man who sits in the White House and the people who support him are the greatest threat to democracy that this country has ever seen. And if you don't want to see democracy crumble before your eyes, you have a very clear choice in November. And I'm not even talking about candidates. I'm talking about making sure that your voice is heard. And frankly, I'm just going to say it.
Joe Biden wasn't my first, second, third, fourth or eighth choice. In fact, he wasn't on my roster. But because of what I'm seeing every single day, I am working like hell to register every person I possibly can to make sure that people know how they can participate and to make sure that people know what decisions. Right. Are on the ballot besides the personalities and the people. Because I can guarantee you right now, every vote that is cast in November is incredibly important, whether it be police violence, whether it be, you know, the covid pandemic, whether it be essential workers in our communities, whether it be what's happening in our schools, everything is on the ballot in November.
And I do not say that lightly. I hate politics just like Michelle Obama. I think I probably hate them more than she does. But I have never been more clear that every single person who takes a risk to vote in this upcoming election. Is really a defender of our democracy and a defender of our collective futures together. Alicia Garza, I wish I could keep asking you questions, but that was such a motivating final answer. I think we have to leave it there.
Thank you for. Thank you for sharing that. Thank you for being here.
Thank you for having me. And I hope I can come back again soon. When we come back, I'll be joined by Aaron Ryan and Guy Branum to talk about the Republican convention and play. OK, stop.
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We're I'll just tell you that, that we just watched an absolutely abhorrent one, our Donald Trump speech and we're frankly reeling, but we're going to do our best.
She's a writer for It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, contributor to The Daily Beast and host of Crickets Pod Histeria. Welcome back, Erin. Ryan, it's so good to see you and it's so good to be here.
And he's a comedian, writer and host of the show talk show, the game show, author of My Life as a Goddess. Welcome back, Guy Branum.
Good to be here. Thank you for having me, John. So here we are. It's Thursday night. Donald Trump has just concluded night four of the Republican National Convention calling Full Fash. What are your thoughts and what was your feeling at the end of this rodeo?
Well, John, I feel like I had eaten my way to the middle of a turducken of nightmares every single day.
A different type of poultry nesting within a different poultry and at the middle was just a baby of like a bag of dog poop that had been left on a hiking trail for days.
Have you ever considered working in the art of haiku? I actually I have a proposal out to my agent. We'll see how that goes.
Who raps Basho? I write too smart for me, guy. So, yeah, it was it was a slog. And everybody who didn't have to watch it because it's somehow related to their professional life is a lucky person, very lucky American.
I will say that it ended on a high note for me.
And by high note, I mean Donald Trump was soggy bread at the bottom of a sandwich on Thursday night. He gave one of the worst speeches I've ever seen and it was great for me.
Guy, how are you feeling?
What's on your mind? After this Republican convention? My mind really went to two great moments in cinema. You know how triumph of the will is like a parade of monsters like shot from below and sort of like just big letters of everybody's name. It was really exciting to see our Zoome version of that with really uniform haircuts. And then also tonight's speech really reminded me of the speech of The Manchurian Candidate beating swords against Shields, saying there is no alternative.
There was a lot that was funny. There was a lot that was chilling. But in tonight's speech, when Donald Trump talks about decent people being scared, I realized his definition of decent is so different from my own, like his definition of decent is that Rittenhouse kid, normal people who are white and just want to be able to live in a country where black people are fearful and oppressed and they can carry their guns wherever they want to. And it's chilling that there are enough people with whom that resonates, who understand it the same way where cancer culture really is something to fear.
Because it stopped us from leading our normal lives. Something can be both quite silly and also incredibly dangerous at the same time. In fact, it's in part the silliness that makes it dangerous, that makes it something people aren't quite cognizant of in terms of how much risk it poses, how much it can change things, because it is also vulgar and idiotic and the production values are terrible and the taste is wrong. And it's also cheap looking. And the people involved in putting this on are not the most talented people.
The Republican Party producers know that the only people willing to speak at this event, and I think the combination of that is incredibly depleting. It's incredibly enervating to watch four days of a bunch of people poorly denying the obvious right at a time when the country is in crisis, elevating Donald Trump as of a man who loves us because he's in our family and we're all part of one big American family with Donald Trump, who's kind and Donald Trump who's good and who wakes up at dawn and goes to bed at midnight working for us.
And I'm trying to remember that the reason it feels so painful to listen to is because the lies serve a purpose. The lies are not meant to convince us. The lies are meant to show us that they don't care what we think and that this isn't a conversation. It's about subjugation.
The thing that I took away from watching the RNC in that I take away from watching any kind of event where they're trying to present an airbrushed idea of who they are to the world is OK. So there were a couple of nights where they were clearly like, you know, featuring a bunch of black Republicans or black people who like Donald Trump.
And then there were nights where they had a bunch of women that are like, I'm a woman. And Donald Trump acknowledged that I had surgery. Ergo, Donald Trump is good for women. Like, I feel like the wrong thing to take away from them is Donald Trump is going after the black vote. Donald Trump is going after the women vote.
What Donald Trump is going after is the vote of people who want to be told that they're not racist and sexist for voting for Donald Trump.
Like, I don't think that Donald Trump honestly thinks he's going to win that many suburban women back, but I think that he just wants to win enough of them who just need assurance that voting for him doesn't mean that they're sexist, because look at all these women who like him, because look at all these black people telling you that you are not racist because they don't believe that Donald Trump is racist.
Ergo, you are not. If you vote for Donald Trump, the media gets it wrong by saying, like he's going after black voters, he's going after female voters. He is really not he's not going to win young women of color. He wants people who are looking for a reason to find it. I'm not sure if he gave people a reason, because that's not my mindset.
But I guess we'll see, you know, as as more polling comes out after he's moderating a definition of decency, like what you're saying is he's trying to give people the cloak that there is decency in the behavior that says shooting protesters is a reasonable action. Although I would like to say that I am primarily here as a wife and mother. I am not here for myself.
I like to like Ronna Romney, I'm sorry, Romney, Romney, Mitt Romney saying that she was a housewife serving as the RNC. Look, if you have a job that pays you outside of the home, you are not a housewife. I'm sorry. That drives me nuts. Sorry. Go ahead. Love it. You know what? Fuck it.
Let's just go to OK, stop now. It's over. OK, stop. We're going to watch clips from the convention.
We're going to follow your John. John, I'm sorry. There's no way, Ryan, meet both comedy writers. Should there have been more good jokes in there? Where you looking for more wordplay?
I'm looking for whatever you want to offer in this emotional moment. If you can respond to it with humor, I welcome it. If you can respond to it with grace and seriousness, I welcome it. We're just trying to get through this week and see the other side of it. And in that spirit, OK, stop.
We're going to watch a clip of Ivanka Trump. You know her. She's Donald Trump's daughter. She's terrible. And then there's also Donald Trump, her father. We'll hear after that.
Let's roll the clip. My father has strong convictions. He knows what he believes and he says what he thinks. Whether you agree with him or not, you always know where he stands. I recognize that my dad's communication style is not to everyone's taste. And I know that his tweets can feel a bit unfiltered. OK, stop. OK, stop.
I know there's something just extremely trumpy and hilarious about how naked his preference for Ivanka has become over the course of these last three.
Like he literally lined his kids up for speaking engagements in reverse order of how much he likes them.
And he had the one that he's horniest for, like right before him. You know, he didn't even have the first lady introduced and he had his his weird daughter with a face that doesn't move.
I am fascinated by the fact that America is falling from the public empire will require one of our two political parties handing itself over to an auto. Like, it is ridiculous to me that the Republican Party of the United States, representing 50 goddamn states, has said this family gets to run. It's that we haven't reached a point where all of the Republican politicians didn't stand up and say, like, fuck, you know, like, sure, you might be president, but you cannot hand all of the power to your children.
You don't get to say 12 more years. God help me. I hope they get another seventy six.
It's not just that they decided to really embrace a kind of autocratic family. And so they chose this family like they had bushes, they had them. There are so many of them. They dressed nicely. They they take pictures on the holidays.
You know, they have a compound. You know, they were ready for this.
You want to know who don't overthrow our own government, people who call their grandpa Popi or Grampy. Yeah, they don't. They don't.
You know, they they act in Texas, but they were very Connecticut really did protect us.
The results speak for themselves. OK, stop. I don't believe this convention would have look, that obviously would look different in that it was in person. But the message would have been quite similar if there hadn't been a massive crisis in pandemic. So many people had to walk to the podium and say, like, the results speak for themselves, the best is yet to come.
I heard foreign leaders beg him not to move the American embassy to Jerusalem, yet he delivered on a promise also made and unfulfilled by past presidents, because my father knew that it was the right thing to do.
I think a nation of people who can no longer go to Applebee's are really served by the fact that the Israeli embassy is in Jerusalem, though I think the fact that we are all scared to hug anyone, we feel better knowing that there are a couple of pieces of sheet metal down at the southern border. The results speak for themselves.
Look at this fucking super spreader event. Look at this. Oh, my God. Look at these. Look at these anti citizens. I cannot stand them. I mean, like, look at these people.
There are absolutely no regard how many Herman Cain's must die there.
Awful. I hope I hope Herman Cain haunts the fuck out of all these people.
It's an epidemiological version of Donald Trump cares about you because it's basically saying, like all of these people know, that the medical advice says, don't gather like this. All of these people know that. Dr. Fauci says we got to wear a mask and they had to change the CDC guidance while he was like, you know, getting a molar removed or something because he was unconscious. Like, these people all know that what they're doing runs counter to the advice.
And yet when Donald Trump says we need to get the economy open, they applaud like crazy, as if they are not in this moment participating in event, contributing to the pandemic that prevents us from reopening the economy.
There's this deep sense of but not me, the same sentiment that allows them to look at a black man being shot for no reason and not feel anything about it because they know it wouldn't happen to them, gives them the sense that they can do these things and they will not be affected by this virus, which is ridiculous. It's a fucking virus. And there are disparities in medical care in this country. I'm truly surprised that old white people haven't been more scared about this more.
They have guy.
They have. That's the thing. His numbers among seniors outside of the group of people willing to gather at this monstrous event. It is affecting his numbers. There is still a real world for now.
I've been doing some small scale polling work with older Jewish widows at my mother's home. And I have to say they're fucking terrified and they're pissed off, defying all expectations. Just weeks ago, he rewrote history again by making a piece.
OK, stop. OK, stop. Speaking of rewriting history, the last four days were basically us just pretending that Donald Trump has never been the person that he's always been. The last four days have been about rewriting history. Everything that they accuse others of doing are confessing to doing that.
The Republican Party, Ivanka Trump, the Trump family, everybody speaking at the RNC is trying to rewrite history into something where Donald Trump is a nice guy and a successful president.
And, you know, it might work for the like little bubble of reality they're living in for four days.
But I just can't imagine it sticking tonight with a heart full of gratitude and boundless optimism. I profoundly accept this nomination for president. OK, stop.
OK, stop. OK, so profoundly.
I profoundly accept that this is like the first moment in the speech where I was like, is his brain working?
Tonight we make fun of the speech writing. We should make fun of this terrible writing. This is a communication from Stephen Miller, kind of a notorious bigot and bad person channeling this man, one of the worst human beings we've ever elevated in public life. No empathy, attempting to demonstrate language that is grand, that works, and the only way, grand language. Works is because it's infused with with grandeur, it's infused with emotion, like that's what big speeches are there about capturing the bigness of the emotions, the bigness of the experience.
I'm look, I'm a speechwriter. I can say this stuff.
And I think one of the reasons this always doesn't work for him, that the writing is never right, the delivery is never right, is because these are not emotions he experiences. He doesn't profoundly accept the nomination and profoundly accept anything. He has no profound experiences. He's never experienced profundity. There's no part of his life that has been profound.
I don't think that he had a moment of profound reflection at the birth of John Jr.. You know, I don't think that that's an experience that he has. And so he has to fake it. And I think what what we're talking about when we talk about why his speeches don't seem to work is we're talking about the fact that he's faking it.
President Abraham Lincoln looked out these very windows upon a half completed Washington Monument and asked God in his providence to save our nation.
OK, stop. I would just like to assert that Donald Trump doesn't know what or where Providence is profoundly accepting things.
Providence. These are the words that Stephen Miller thinks you use when you're trying to seem grand because he doesn't actually have the emotions required or the empathy required to capture the bigness or grandeur that he's attempting to capture.
Joe Biden's agenda is made in China. My agenda is made in the USA.
OK, stop. I very frequently on this podcast asserted that politics is compromise when people are like, I feel like Joe Biden is a compromise. Yes, he's a compromise. Selecting our president is like ordering a pizza with an entire nation. And you're always just going to end up with cheese pizza, even though some people are vegans. Like it's a fucking compromise.
I would like to say that Joe Biden may be the perfect bullet to take this dude down because they speak metaphorically, metaphorically, metaphorically.
Yes. Yes, metaphorically, because they spent four days presenting a technocratic view of what the Democrats want to do, that it is about experts telling you who should be in charge. And if you try to apply that to the Clintons or Barack Obama, that would maybe feel accurate. Who is this stranger who's telling me what to do? Because they're more of an expert than I am, however rough Joe Biden is, he's fucking America. And yes, he says Scranton too much.
But like, I feel like the capacity to say, oh, they're culture whoring for you is really hard to take when it's coming from a dude who's that down to earth and that reasonable and yes, fallible. But who feels like somebody, you know, Joe Biden received the nomination in a fucking public school library with this fucking public school teacher wife. And it didn't feel like a moment. It feels like a place that he ends up sometimes of the year.
And I have such hope that we'll be able to resonate with America.
So there's all of this hullabaloo around people that might be convinced to move from Trump to Biden.
I think that those people are honestly just pretending. They're just looking for a reason to vote for Trump and eventually they'll find it between now and the election.
But I think the good news to Guy's point and the thing we always have to keep in mind is Donald Trump can say whatever he wants. It doesn't change reality. And the country is in crisis. One hundred seventy five thousand people are dead. And there's nothing that Donald Trump can say to make that Joe Biden's fault. And so much of the case that Donald Trump made this week was, if you're not careful, the America today will continue. That's really what he is saying.
He's saying if you're not careful, everything that you're seeing, that's the future. And what he's trying to do in so many ways is declare bankruptcy on his presidency. He's trying to say he's trying to declare bankruptcy on the first term.
He's saying one hundred seventy five thousand Americans are dead. Roll that to zero. We had to spend two trillion dollars and it wasn't enough to get out of the economic hole. And we've lost 20 million jobs or whatever number of tens of millions of jobs. Get that back to zero. The pain, the chaos, the violence. Sure. I said four years ago at the Republican convention, I will bring order to the streets. And tonight I said once again, I'll bring order to the streets because I'm taking us back to zero.
I am not an incumbent. Joe Biden's the incumbent. I'm the challenger. And I hope it won't work. But it's up to us to make sure it doesn't work. And I do think we have the power to do that, because I think the good news is these four days ultimately won't matter nearly as much as what happens over the next sixty six days. And in those sixty six days we can win.
That's it. We just have to win. Erin Ryan, Guy Branum, what a delight it was to see you. Thank you for going through this emotional journey of having to respond to this godforsaken event. When we come back, we'll have my interview with Mayor Alex Morse.
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He is the mayor of Holyoke, Massachusetts, and a candidate for Congress running in a primary against incumbent and House Ways and Means Chair Richard Neal. Please welcome Alex Morse.
Thanks for having me. Thanks for being here. So I want to start you know, we've had a number of primary candidates on. And I and I just want to start by asking, why would Massachusetts be better off with you in Congress than Richard Neal?
Yeah, I mean, it's time that we have a Congress and a government that looks like and has the lived experience of the people we want to represent. And I come from a working class family first to my family to go to college, came back to my hometown and ran for mayor and got elected when I was twenty two, became the youngest and first openly gay mayor of my city. And we met a lot of progress, but without a strong federal partner and without a federal government that really understands working class people and working class communities and places like western Massachusetts that are oftentimes forgotten about, we're not going to be able to change people's lives.
And in fact, we are represented by an incredibly powerful Democrat, the chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, who's been in Washington for thirty two years. But he's not using his power to hold this president accountable. In fact, he's abusing his power on behalf of the corporations and special interests that have invested millions of dollars on him over his three decades in Washington. And so we wouldn't be losing power our district. We'd be gaining power because it would be about redefining what power actually means.
That change happen from the bottom up. And this is a very progressive district and honestly just doesn't lend itself to having one of the most corporate conservative Democrats representing us in the first district.
So I want to talk about each of those. I want to talk about oversight, and then I want to talk about policy. As the chair of House Ways and Means, Virginia was in a unique position to request Trump's tax returns, and he decided not to do that for basically a quarter of the term half a year after Democrats won in twenty eighteen. Progressives have been incredibly critical of him for doing that. And as a result, it seems now we don't know if he would have been able to get those tax returns before the election.
But it certainly seems the delay means we will not because they waited so long to issue that subpoena. What is the lesson there about that decision?
Because it seems to me it was rooted in a kind of institutionalism or a belief in whether Republicans would be more amenable to a slower process or what have you. What's your response to that decision?
I know this is a great question and it goes right at this power question. I mean, what's the point of having institutional power if you're not going to use it? And Democrats, progressives in every state, I mean, all across the country, we're incredibly frustrated. We work hard to take back the house in twenty eighteen with the hope that there would actually be some substantive oversight of this president and the administration. And along with Eliot Engel, I mean, Richard Neal has gotten an F from the Aguer Institute for not having a single oversight hearing on this administration.
And I mean, there was one guy in Washington that had the power to get his tax returns. There was one guy in Washington that had the power to get the New York state returns after lawmakers there worked for years to make even the state returns available. And he refused to even request those and allow Trump time to file a lawsuit to prevent their release. And so we're now sure, because of Congressman many not to see any financial records from this president.
Ridgy Neil made a conscious decision early on after becoming chair that he would rather negotiate and compromise and work with Trump and Manoogian rather than hold them accountable. And it took months. It took thousands of people here in the district, millions of Americans around the country to lobby this guy, to even do the basic functions of oversight in the first place.
So let's talk about how this sort of approach has manifested in policy. There's been a fight in Congress over surprise medical billing. There was a deal between Democrats and Republicans that would have put an end to the practice where even if you have insurance, you go to the hospital, an anesthesiologist sneaks into the operating room while you're unconscious, you get one hundred thousand dollar bill in the mail. And there was a compromise between Democrats and Republicans and between providers and insurance companies to at least do away with much of the practice.
Neil and his colleague, Kevin Brady, they come out with an alternate proposal that seems to have sunk the bipartisan proposal that might have had a chance. What's your take on it? This is like an egregious example of Neil using his power to benefit his corporate donors. I mean, as you described accurately, like this bill was actually going to make it through Congress. I mean, even this president was prepared to sign it to limit surprise medical bills.
And never before had Blackstone, a private equity group, donated to this congressman and they suddenly became his biggest donor, donating fifty four thousand dollars this cycle alone. And Neil went on to single handedly kill this bill. Ten thousand Americans a day get a surprise medical bill from a provider, from an ambulance company, from a hospital and Neil. But corporate donors before patients and people here in the district and the people of our country. And it's no surprise, I mean, when people here in the district say, well, what, we'd be losing something like who's the chair of the Ways and Means Committee?
And it's like, well, let's look at how he's using his power. I mean, one of the first bills he got through his committee was a bill barring low income Americans from using the free IRS tax filing service after taking money from Turbo Tax. And it's on our block in the same guy that went on in October to kill an amendment in ways and means that would have allowed the government to negotiate lower drug prescription prices. And so all of these our block prescription drugs, surprise medical bills, opening up the Ways and Means Committee room to celebrate the centennial birthday party of AIG.
And this guy has made it very clear who he uses his power for. And it's certainly not for the people here in the 1st Congressional District.
I mean, that's a big birthday. That's a big one. I know. I mean, it's gross. I mean, everyday people in the district can't even get access to this congressman. He hasn't had a town hall in over three years. But then you're opening up your committee room to the executives and people that are largely responsible for this country's financial collapse. I mean, this guy takes more corporate money than literally any member of the House, Democrat and even Republican.
So on the surprise billing question, it's interesting to me because, you know, one thing that you've said is that you would have opposed the Carers Act, which was the big bipartisan relief bill. I believe AMC was the only Democrat who would have opposed it. And so you would have joined with her and be against it. And it was and the argument is it didn't go far enough. And of course, it didn't.
We would have liked something that went further than this bill and that was less about bailing out corporations and more about helping people in need.
But at the same time, it was an emergency and it was a moment where people were in desperate need for that. Six hundred dollars desperate need for relief from the government. The paycheck protection program may have gone to some wealthy people that shouldn't have used it, but it also did help small business along the way. How do you sort of strike that balance between the broader vision, fighting for something better and understanding that in that moment we needed something to happen to help people who were in crisis?
Yeah, and I think this is why we need more members of Congress that see the long game, that actually have the intellect to predict that this isn't meeting the moment or the urgency of the times. And Democrats are guilty. I mean, time and time again, cycle after cycle of negotiating down and compromising. And imagine having a party that was consistent and progressive and understands that you don't get what you fight for. And when I as mayor, I'm in the trenches with everyday people that are literally struggling to put food on the table, don't have Internet at home, don't have computers at home, and young parents, mothers in particular, having to choose between keeping their job or home schooling or caring for their children in a one time payment of twelve hundred dollars to most Americans versus a five hundred billion dollar slush fund for corporations.
No bill would have gotten on this president's desk without the Democratic majority in the House passing a bill. And so why not make it a good bill? The Paycheck Protection Program, a good program overall. And the last thing I want to do is pretend that there wasn't good components in there. There was obviously too many subsidies and too much money for corporations that didn't need the funds in the first place. But we really needed a people's bailout. And Congressman Neil, in his opposition to privilege, I oppose Paycheck Guarantee Act is opposition to a two thousand dollars a month recurring payment supported by Senator Harris, Senator Markey and Senator Sanders.
And even having the gall to talk about the deficit, to talk about austerity and the deficit. And these times, I mean, not only sounding like a Republican, but just being incredibly out of touch when people here in the district are struggling more than anything. And, you know, if the Kahrizak was so profound and successful, why is it we're rushing back to Washington to figure out again how to stimulate our economy and how to actually support the working people of this country?
It's not about supporting the character, not supporting the Kahrizak. It's that you think that there needs to be more members of Congress who would have voiced earlier opposition to some of the pieces of that, that if we had a more progressive bloc in Congress, the ultimate Kahrizak might have been shifted to the left whether or not you would have supported the one as it existed.
Yeah, I think it's about leverage. It's about having a backbone. It's about negotiating up and sticking to core values. And I've been a mayor for nine years. And so I recognize what it's like to have to work with people. I don't always see eye to eye on people that don't share my values. But having done that over the last nine years, by never exceeding the argument to the right or to those that disagree with me, like what's the end goal and who are we fighting for?
But when you are like the poster child for the influence of money and politics, and how can people here inherently trust you in an in closed doors to stand up for everyday? When you're being funded by the biggest corporations that are then in turn benefiting from this very act, and so there's always this hyper focus on institutions and even big business, and then we forget about actual employees. And so even in many ways, the money provided to hospitals didn't actually trickle down to workers.
There's no question why Richard Neal is getting backed by hospital associations and hospital executives. And we're, in fact, endorsed by the state's largest nurses union who even in the middle of this pandemic, don't have access to PBS or livable wages. And so there's a fundamental difference as to who we're going to fight for in Washington.
Yeah, I mean, it does seem like that the only thing that could have happened that would have benefited both the private equity that wanted more money for providers and the insurance companies that didn't want to have to reimburse, the only way to have a compromise that they both liked was to kill the compromise.
Yeah, exactly. And I mean, again, he made a deliberate decision to issue a white paper, a vaguely worded white paper about alternative options. Right as this was going to go over the finish line. I mean, again, this was just about to be passed, signed by the president. And then when you look at Blackstone, I mean, the private equity group that was largely lobbying against this very compromise, this very bill, again, a congressman that is using its power to benefit corporations rather than and every day that passes, every single day that passes.
Ten thousand more Americans are getting a surprise bill. We've had events with constituents here in the district that have been slammed with a surprise medical bill. But I mean, even zooming out a little bit further than that, I mean, you can't take on big pharma. You can't take on private equity. You can't take on Wall Street when you're taking their money. At the same time, if you even after 40 million Americans have lost their job and now millions of Americans have lost their employer based health insurance.
And if you still think that employment should be tied to health insurance and don't understand why health care should be a fundamental human right, even after this pandemic, you're just not equipped or you don't have the right values to represent the American people in twenty twenty.
So I want to move on to this story, obviously, that has brought the campaign. Earlier earlier this month, you were accused of inappropriate contact or advances towards students by College Dems at UMass Amherst. And then the intercept runs this series of investigation, these reports that basically exposed that there was a lot of manipulation going on and a real effort to kind of smear you and to suggest even baiting you into questionable situations with students. There's even indication at the state party may have been involved in some way.
How is the story affected your campaign and what have you had to do to get it back on track?
It's been an eventful couple of weeks and I'm trying to figure out even where to start by describing the events of the last couple of weeks and the initial weekend. And and I've said this before, like this was starting to get shopped around to national media outlets, like even a couple of months ago, something about college Democrats and me and the team. We're sort of unclear as to what was happening. But we realized that there was clearly some political motivation here.
But what was difficult, obviously, with the national conversation we're having about these issues in particular, that when I get an email from the College Democrats in Massachusetts telling me that I have made students feel uncomfortable, I wanted to just like be human as any human should and respond and say, well, I don't recall that if if, in fact, I made someone feel uncomfortable, then I deeply regret that and want to have a conversation about it. And that was my initial response.
And it was essentially an anonymous blog post posted on the student newspaper on Friday night that was then lifted and amplified by almost every media outlet here locally in the state and nationally. And to be really honest, it was a really dark and difficult weekend for me personally, for my family, for my team, my friends. But like so many people, I reached out to me, particularly members of the queer community, like gay men in particular, who were all too familiar with the language being used in response to these accusations, people coming to conclusions, people using the word like predator and so on and so forth.
And I just like knowing who I am and like being very clear about my actions in the past and even more so, too familiar with, like feeling that sense of shame. And I felt that that weekend, even though I felt like I had no reason to feel that shame and so many other people felt it, too. And I realized by the end of the weekend that it was really just I mean, it wasn't just an attack on me.
It was an attack on our entire community. And like our all too familiar sort of experience with the overpolicing of our sex lives and our personal lives. And then in the days following to then find out that the students that purported to be accountable were, in fact, no one not uncomfortable, but were actively trying to to put me in a difficult situation that then damaged my campaign to curry favor with Congressman Neal to secure a job or an internship. And then another day or two later to find out that it was actually an attorney for the Massachusetts Democratic Party that is a donor to Congressman Neil that, in fact, wrote the email to me in the first place to be as salacious as possible and be as big as possible at the same time.
And so it was quite a whirlwind of a week. And in that weekend, I really wasn't sure what I was going to do because it was incredibly intense. And I had to ask myself, is it worth it? Is this what it's going to be like the next three weeks is what it's going to be like if I get elected on September 1st. But I also realize that just as a young person, as a single person, as a queer person, like we should feel like we can run for office.
Without having constant fear of of, again, our personal lives and our sex lives being broadcast, we're just being people and adults and I've been clear like, yes, I'm gay. Yes, I've been on gay dating apps and I shouldn't have to apologize for having consensual relationships, you know? Yeah.
I mean, it does seem like there is a pressure to adhere to sort of hetero normative standards in the kind of relationship you put forward. I think like and it is not a criticism of Mayor Pete and Chaston. I think, though, they projected an incredibly safe version for a lot of straight people of what it means to be gay. That's not a criticism of their relationship. That's I'm not suggesting anything inauthentic about it. But at the same time, it also seemed in this case that you were not just being held to a hetero normative standard.
You were expected to exceed a hetero normative standard, that the kind of conduct that sort of straight people can participate in freely somehow is seen as lascivious or wrong. If it happens, if it's a gay man, sort of, you know, in his 20s, dating someone who might be a student at the time. Yeah.
And it's like I announce my candidacy for mayor. I was twenty one years old. Right. I started teaching a class occasionally at UMass when I was twenty five years old. Like I have been in public life for almost ten years now. And I've always had to navigate like the personal with the political and the mayor and this constant struggle to still be human and still live a normal life and just navigating dating. And yeah, and I realize I'm the mayor, whether I'm at City Hall, whether I'm like at the grocery store or whether I'm at a coffee shop on a date, that's the truth.
That's who I am. And so I'm cognizant of that. But I'm also like the expectation shouldn't be that you're in some monogamous hetero normative relationship before you actually enter public life as an openly queer person like that is an unfair expectation. And the reality is, I mean, we're a very sex negative society in general. We pretend that people don't have sex. And I just think it's an important conversation for folks to have because too often people are pushed out and are unable to be like unapologetically themselves and in so many ways.
So, I mean, I didn't expect to be talking so much about this. Yeah. My personal life and what I like the final stretch of the campaign. But I think the people here in the district and beyond, like they see this for what it is three weeks before the most competitive primary that this guy has ever seen in 30 years and put the pieces together. And so if I can be helpful to other folks that are thinking about running for office or are in office like it's OK.
I mean, to be single, to be young, to be queer of your career and also have a personal life. Yeah.
I want to ask one last question about it. I was conflicted about this, too, because first of all, when the reports first came out, when I saw, of course, the accusation, then I saw the intercept reports. And some people sort of when I shared with The Intercept, had found some people responded to me, I think, you know, in a sincere way. But but wait. There was relationships with students there. Isn't that obviously wrong?
Isn't there something inappropriate there? What's your response to that?
So, like I said, I started teaching a class at UMass when I was twenty five years old and not some powerful professor at the University of Massachusetts. I occasionally teach a once a week class and I'm in western Massachusetts. And if I want to have consensual adult relationships with young people like in the area, they happen to be college students that aren't in my direct class and doesn't violate the policy of the University of Massachusetts, then that is my choice.
Like we have to be as puritanical sort of ideologies around, like people's personal lives and sex lives, I think is problematic. And just again, like this overpolicing of other people's personal lives. And so I would push back on that. And if other folks want to make different decisions, then then that is on them. But but for me, again, I don't feel like I ever have to be in a position to apologize for having those relationships.
So back to this race against Neil. If you win in this primary and you go on to win in November, what's the most important part to you of taking on this role? Like, what are you most excited about tackling if you were to enter office in January of twenty twenty one?
Yeah, I mean, what gets me most excited and what's been really cool is just the last couple of weeks, you know, people are voting early right now. People are voting by mail. And so every day feels like Election Day. And this is a pretty big district. It's eighty seven cities and towns from rural parts. I mean, farmers, hill towns like very urban communities where I am, and Holyoke and Springfield, the biggest city in the district.
And people are just struggling right now. They feel left behind. Forgotten about you would never know. We have one of the most powerful members of Congress representing us. The obesity epidemic. Overdoses are going down around the state. But up here in western mass, hospitals are closing in the middle of the pandemic. Dozens of cities and towns still don't have access to broadband Internet. And so, like first and foremost, it's making sure that the people of this district feel like they have a member of Congress that is just fighting for everyday people, that does town halls, someone they can see they can talk to, they can hold accountable.
But then going to Washington, like adding to the progressive caucus and progressive voices and just fighting for everyday people when it comes to health care, when it comes to climate change, getting money out of politics, you know, reproductive and racial justice, immigrant rights, I mean. We've made a lot of progress on these issues on a local level, but these are issues that don't stop at the borders of any one municipality. And then also when you look at our government, I mean, it's largely old white straight men.
And we need to make sure that we have a body again that reflects the diversity of our country. I mean, we deserve a better government that is in touch with working people. I mean, when I think about my parents and their story, my siblings and they would have never imagined that their son would grow up to be the mayor of their hometown, no less a potential member of Congress. And it's so critically important that we have these views.
And when I think about, like my identity as a gay man to like intersectional queer identities that that recognize that even our community has a long way to go towards liberation, that our struggle didn't end with marriage equality. We still have a lot of challenges within our own community. So I'm excited to finish this campaign in the in the coming days and hopefully go to Washington after the primary.
What's the gayest thing you're watching on streaming right now?
Well, my my quarantine show is Schitt's Creek, which is like, OK, which is by far like it took me to another world in the middle of like a very successful campaign and stressful time. And I paid on Amazon Prime to watch season six and just incredibly sad that it's over. But I told everybody on my left to watch it.
Here's here's my Schitt's Creek question, which is, OK, they lose everything. They're super rich and they lose everything and they end up in this small town. But very quickly, they become owners and business leaders inside of the community. They kind of very quickly take back on the mantle of the kind of elite in their town. I'm just saying it's there's a left critique of Schitt's Creek waiting to happen. And I don't think you should be the one to do it.
But it's out there. It's available now.
Oh, my God. Well, I love the closing episode of the behind the scenes. I want to go to one of those, like, tours where you get to meet the meet the cast. And if there wasn't covid-19, I would totally sign up for one of those. But it's just an amazing show, and I love how the characters develop season by season. And it's incredibly hopeful, uplifting show and also the way a picture is like a gay relationship without it.
Yeah, like the language being like negative or something bad has to happen at some point. And I love it. I'm not going to give any spoilers because not everybody, probably no spoilers, no spoilers.
Any Golden Girls for you. Have you like that's like the one that's like the one good thing I haven't. I mean I know Betty White is and but other than that, I mean a random TV land like late night here and there. But I've never like followed the show. I actually prefer like Queens or old reruns of other shows.
Wow. Wow. OK, King of Queens as a deeply straight response. All right. Alex Morris, thank you so much for taking the time. So good to talk to you. Likewise. Thanks so much.
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Here it is. This week's high note submitted by you, the listener.
Hey, this is Johnny from Austin, Texas. But currently on day six of fourteen of my mandatory quarantine of re-entering Canada, where it's not a million degrees outside. But more importantly than that, I just found out that I do not have to live in the United States, nor do I have to be a U.S. citizen to volunteer for a food bank, provided that I'm fully voluntary. So I finally am signing up to adopt a state. Mine will be Michigan and I'll be pressuring all my Canadian friends who are probably as bored as I am to hopefully do more of the same.
I love it.
This is Cali for Massachusetts. My high note this week is I just checked the status of my absentee ballot online for our primary next week and my ballot was accepted today. It was awesome to hear both Joe Kennedy and I. On your program a few weeks ago, it really solidified my choice. So thank you. Hey there, Laura. This is Stephen from Arizona. My high note is that I talked a friend into volunteering for Marcelli in exchange for doing a dance cover to a song of their choice.
They volunteered. So now I have to do a little video of me dancing to Taylor Swift's ME. So that should be a blast.
Thanks. Hi, John. This is Julie in New York City. I'm a school tour guide at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. And obviously we've been shut down since March. And I really miss the kids especially. But over the summer, we've been working on giving virtual tours. And my high note is that on Friday, I gave a tour to a group of third graders in rural Mississippi. So it's kind of a silver lining that even though kids can't come to the museum right now, we can still show them works of art.
And they can do this now with kids from all over the world. Thanks so much for all you do.
Well, if you want to leave a message about something that gave you hope, you can call us at four to four three four one four one nine three. There are 66 days until the election. So sign up for votes of America right now to defeat Donald Trump, keep the House and win back the Senate. Thank you to Kara Swisher, Alicia Garza, Alex Morris, Erin Ryan and Guy Branum. Thank you to our grocery workers, truck drivers, delivery people, restaurant workers and flight attendants and teachers and administrators.
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