In This Episode
- Biden held the first press conference of his presidency, yesterday, discussing the state of the nation’s vaccination effort, his views on the filibuster, and more. States are opening up vaccine eligibility, but there’s an early pattern emerging of Black and Hispanic people getting smaller shares of vaccinations.
- The LAPD evicted an unhoused community that had set up tents in the Echo Park neighborhood of LA, and the department did it against the CDC’s guidance to pause encampment sweeps during the pandemic. The district’s city councilmember framed the action as part of an effort to rehabilitate the park, but members of the community showed up to support the people from being forced out.
- Plus, Jason Concepcion, host of Takeline and All Caps NBA joins us for headlines: no Zoom at the Oscars, the latest on the boat blocking the Suez Canal, and Amazon’s failed attempt to clapback.
Akilah Hughes: It’s Friday, March 26th. I’m Akilah Hughes.
Gideon Resnick: And I’m Gideon Resnick, and this is What A Day, a podcast no one is advised to listen to while operating a boat in the Suez Canal.
Akilah Hughes: Yeah, for sure. You know, maybe just put on something more chill, like smooth jazz, or maybe just some boat directions, I guess.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, but whatever you do, do not fall asleep. On today’s show, a tense overnight standoff in Los Angeles between protesters and police over the cleanout of a homeless encampment. Then some headlines.
Akilah Hughes: But first, the latest:
[clip of President Biden] We will by my one 100th day in office have administered 200 million shots in people’s arms.
Akilah Hughes: So that was President Biden yesterday who doubled his original vaccine target during the first press conference of his presidency. He touched on a lot of different things during questions and answers that went over an hour, from voting rights to the F word we use most often: the filibuster. So Gideon, let’s start with that bit about vaccines, because it sounds like a huge success. But what should people know, especially if they’re still waiting in line?
Gideon Resnick: Yeah so first off here, Biden has been really careful with his promises about normality, vaccines, et cetera, and this was another example, right? His original goal, 100 million shots in 100 days: super, super catchy. But it was actually underselling what the administration wanted and truly needed to do. Doing the math now, the CDC says that about 133 million shots are in people’s arms so far. We are just over halfway into Biden’s first 100 days, which basically means we were already on track to hit 200 million. So this is another example of Biden kind of trying not to overpromise anything until it becomes clear to people you can actually raise the expectations. But if you’re out there still waiting to get even your first shot, the news is that the country is probably on track still for enough doses for all adults by the end of May.
Akilah Hughes: Oh, that sounds awesome. But also, it could be in just a few days, depending on where you are. So this week, governors from all over are like Oprah. There’s like, you know: you get a vaccine, you get a vaccine, don’t lie on my show but get a vaccine. I’m just thinking of Oprah things.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, yeah. That’s exactly what all the governors are saying. It’s crazy you knew a word for word. But uh, yeah, so May is at the latest for things opening. Remember, it’s also going to take some time to get to everyone once that happens. We are at just 14% fully-vaccinated at this point. Shots are already accessible to people 16 and older in places like Mississippi and Utah. But it was just announced that that same demo in Minnesota can get a vaccine by this coming Tuesday, while in California, it’s April 15th. And there are a bunch more states that are opening up eligibility rules, too. And we’ll have a link in our show notes to all of that. But overall, yeah, it does appear that most states are going to meet that goal for opening things up.
Akilah Hughes: Yeah. Then as the supply bumps up and up, the other hurdle is actually making sure people want the vaccine, helping them know where to get it and how. So, Gideon, how is the White House working through that part?
Gideon Resnick: It feels like it’s going to be the question for the rest of the year.
Akilah Hughes: Right.
Gideon Resnick: Especially as infections are ticking back up, and we hit 30 million overall cases in the U.S. So the answer for now seems to be: tons of money. The administration is putting in ten billion dollars basically for the Department of Health and Human Services to reach underserved communities, communities of color, rural areas, and the like. And the hope is that this cash investment will help reverse some not so great news we’ve seen so far. There’s an early pattern emerging of Black and Hispanic people getting smaller shares of vaccinations. That’s according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. For instance, they point to California, where just 21% of vaccinations have gone to Latinos, but that same group: they’re 55% of cases, 46% of deaths and 40% of the total population in the state. So ensuring that equity and access actually happens remains a challenge.
Akilah Hughes: Yeah. So Gideon the news of those vaccines might have been one of the stars of Biden’s first press conference—maybe not the biggest star, you know, there was a lot about Trump for some reason—but not to be overshadowed: the filibuster. What did Biden say when pressed about the debate of whether to keep it or to kick it?
Gideon Resnick: He kind of went back and forth on it. It was a maybe. Here’s part of what he said:
[clip of President Biden] It used to be you had to stand there and talk and talk and talk and talk until you collapsed. And guess what? People got tired of talking and tired of collapsing. And filibusters broke down and we were able to break the filibuster, get a quorum and vote. So I strongly support moving in that direction, in addition to having an open mind about dealing with certain things that are just elemental to the functioning of our democracy.
Gideon Resnick: Yes, this is a bit of a whining answer, coincidentally, because Biden was getting at something he’s mentioned before: this so-called talking filibuster, where you filibuster by talking and talking and perhaps collapsing, as he’s describing there. But nowadays you can just do it by sending an email. In the words of Joe Biden: that is literally not a joke, folks. That is real. And Biden was kind of driving at maybe being open to further reforms, and agreed with President Obama that it is a relic of the Jim Crow era. But he mostly placed specific emphasis on the need for voting rights legislation the Democrats are pushing in the Senate. He called efforts to limit voting, quote “sick” and quote “un-American”. He definitely dodged a direct answer on the filibuster rule, though, which is, of course, a major point of contention among Senate Democrats as they try to maneuver here with this 50-50 chamber. Ultimately, we’ll see what the real president, Joe Manchin, ends up deciding. Ha ha. Just kidding. Not entirely. That’s an update from Biden’s presser. But let’s turn our attention to something more local in Los Angeles. Akilah, there was a tense conversation in a large park between police, unhoused people and protesters. What happened?
Akilah Hughes: So as of last night at 10:00 p.m. Eastern, 7:00 p.m. Pacific, here is what we know: on Wednesday night and into yesterday, the Los Angeles Police Department moved to evict and fence up part of an unhoused community that had set up tents in the Echo Park neighborhood of Los Angeles. This, of course, goes against the CDC’s pandemic guidance. There was a huge standoff that turned violent against protesters and the unhoused.
[chanting] At the park. Rise up. At the park. Rise up.
Gideon Resnick: So the goal behind forcing people out, according to City Councilman Mitch O’Farrell, who represents the area, was to, quote “rehabilitate the park,” a piece of land. So officials moved to clear out the encampment, which had been there for a while but only grew since the start of the pandemic. Akilah, how did officials go about achieving that, quote unquote “goal”?
Akilah Hughes: Well, park rangers and LAPD officers started closing off the area around 10:00 p.m. local time on Wednesday. And they directed people living in the park to clear out their belongings, including this woman who was filmed by the unhoused advocacy organization Street Watch, L.A.:
woman: All we are here is surviving. We are a community. We help everybody. We got room. No, violence. Nothing. And we are out here and just living. That is it. And we are being harassed and treated like criminals.
Gideon Resnick: So people like the woman we just heard were in the midst of community members, about 200 who came to support the people being forced out, but they weren’t alone. Let’s listen:
Gideon Resnick: So that’s the sound of their standoff with police. The local community news org KNOCK.LA reported that protesters were kept at bay by about twice as many police officers. So Akilah, where does it stand right now?
Akilah Hughes: So as of Thursday night, the park has been mostly cleared of people, with cleanup crews taking care of lost items and the LAPD erecting a perimeter wall. But about that councilman who said the purpose was to, quote “rehabilitate the park,” it’s pretty unconscionable when L.A. still has one of the biggest unhoused populations in the nation and that, you know, still needs to be addressed. Los Angeles has seen a steady increase of homelessness, and experts say that it’s gotten worse in the past year. This event is the culmination of decades of bad policy, and the community that showed up for each other being treated as an afterthought.
Gideon Resnick: Right. And so how this most recent event went down is really drawing some criticism, right?
Akilah Hughes: Totally. The plan was reportedly devised in secret, with local outlets struggling to get details from Councilman O’Farrell before it even happened. The official department that coordinates outreach services for the unhoused in L.A. city and county wasn’t pleased. The head of the L.A. Homeless Services Authority told the L.A. Times, quote “it facilitates fear, chaos, and it breaks the trust we built, it seems like it didn’t need to happen this way.” Some residents of Echo Park Lake put out their own statement as well, saying in part, quote “without the constant LAPD and city harassment in our lives, we’ve been able to grow, to come together as a community, not just unhoused, but housed as well, and work together for the mutual aid and benefit of each other.” The story is still developing and it may seem hyper-local since it’s occurring down the street from me, but we wanted to highlight it because events like this, or even on a smaller scale, have been happening across the nation because of an untenable housing crisis compounded by the pandemic and the economic fallout because of it. And in a time with so much economic uncertainty and talk of getting back to normal, we should also prioritize what parts of normal are worth bringing back. Militarized police forces many times the size of those at the insurrection to throw away the belongings and further displace the most vulnerable among us should be a thing of the past. So that’s the latest. Stay safe, and we’ll be back after some ads with a special headlines guest.
Akilah Hughes: Let’s wrap up with some headlines.
Akilah Hughes: Today, we have got a great guest, Jason Concepcion, the host of Crooked’s new hit podcast, Takeline, the All Caps YouTube series, and a guy with really funny sports takes on Twitter. Jason, thank you so much for being on our show.
Jason Concepcion: It’s a delight to be here. Thank you so much.
Akilah Hughes: You are the delight, sir. This is great. Well, let’s do some headlines. So no one gets to receive an Oscar in front of all their impressive books. The Academy Awards plans to ban Zoom acceptance speeches, and they’re already getting backlash from people experiencing something called a pandemic. Going to the ceremony in person struck many as a bad idea, and it might not even be possible for nominees who live abroad, unless they come here through some secret network of tunnels that’s only open to huge celebrities.
Gideon Resnick: That exists.
Akilah Hughes: Yeah, it’s crazy. At least nine nominees live in the U.K., which plans to ban non-essential international trips next week. Variety says there’s been a push to let the nominees pre-record their speeches (boo) before they know they won, which the Geneva Convention considers actor torture. Meetings with academy officials to discuss these hurdles this week were abruptly canceled.
Jason Concepcion: Yikes. Well, an active network of tunnels—can’t they do some like Harry Potter’s thing for the U.K., people, like a, touch an old boot and then just like appear here, like through a portal.
Akilah Hughes: Yes, that would be ideal. Something. They don’t have technology. They’ve had a year to figure it out.
Gideon Resnick: They need better agents, frankly. You know, like this is a sign that the agents are lacking during the pandemic. I’m just going to say it. Nobody’s talking about it.
Jason Concepcion: I’m on a boat! The boat blocking the Suez Canal continues to go full stubborn dog who’s tired of its walk. It just wants to lie there, and stopped being funny a while ago. The boat is called the Ever Given, and by one estimate it’s holding up 400 million dollars an hour in global trade.
Akilah Hughes: That’s so much.
Jason Concepcion: That’s quite a lot. Delays could soon result across the world, and prospects of the ship suddenly deciding to move again are dim. Weighing in around 200,000 metric tons and measuring one Empire State Building, the Ever Given is what experts call, quote “a beefcake” and it could take days or even weeks to dislodge. One industry professional referred to it as a, quote “very heavy beached whale,” which frankly is judgey and just a little bit rude.
Gideon Resnick: Stop commenting on the whale’s weight, and just put it back in the water.
Akilah Hughes: I don’t think that whales get beached because they’re fat. I think they get beached because they’re beached. So let’s focus on the problem, you know.
Jason Concepcion: As of yesterday, there were 238 ships waiting outside the canal to enter, as the Ever Given nervously shouted out: someone’s in here. I got to say, I love that, you know, this is the Suez Canal, one of the most vital and densely-trafficked waterways in the world, and it appears that the effort to free the ship is like one guy in a backhoe, and no one else.
Akilah Hughes: Yeah, they had one spare digger. Just one.
Gideon Resnick: It’s like the amount of effort put into, like, putting that fake mulch on a playground. Like, that’s, that’s the amount of resources going into this.
Jason Concepcion: There’s not even like one other person around.
Gideon Resnick: That man. How much is he getting paid to do that?
Akilah Hughes: Yeah. And he needs to take a break every once in a while, which is really slowing it down.
Jason Concepcion: I know, right? [laughs]
Akilah Hughes: He eats lunch, that’s another one hundred million dollars is just wasting.
Gideon Resnick: Amazon is trying out a new union-busting strategy called Le Epic Clapback. As Amazon’s Bessemer plant did its historic unionization vote, Wisconsin Representative Mark Pocan tweeted that the company overworked its employees to the point where they had to pee in bottles to reach quotas. In a tone mostly reserved for fast food company Twitter accounts dragging each other’s chicken sandwiches, Amazon replied, quote “you don’t really believe the peeing bottles thing, do you? If that were true, nobody would work for us.” We do love when a rat is sarcastic. That is—
Akilah Hughes: [laughs] It’s great.
Gideon Resnick: —our favorite kind of behavior. The problem with Amazon’s tweet is that workers peeing in bottles has been documented extensively and is so common that it’s a meme among delivery drivers. Today, Amazon workers in Alabama will meet with the Charlie’s Angels of supporting unions: Killer Mike, Danny Glover and Bernie Sanders.
Jason Concepcion: Wow. I love the idea that people have so much choice in where they would work that they would then choose to not work at Amazon who is giving them a job, because of a reason like this. Come on, guys.
Akilah Hughes: Yeah, come on. Like, people aren’t just desperate for work at this point. Also, like, it’s really cool that they want us to support Amazon but they’re like: we don’t believe the people who work for us, you really telling me that when they said they peed in bottles, you believe them? We really value them, but we don’t believe them.
Jason Concepcion: Maybe it’s that they don’t believe in like human bodily functions—
Akilah Hughes: [laughs] It’s actually a much broader conspiracy. They’re like: you think people can even pee in bottles!?
Jason Concepcion: Right. Come on! That’s not possible.
Gideon Resnick: They’re like: Jeff has never peed, we just don’t understand.
Jason Concepcion: Literally . . . Jeff does not excrete any longer.
Gideon Resnick: No, he is eliminated—
Akilah Hughes: And he doesn’t have a bottle. We wouldn’t allow that in the factory.
Gideon Resnick: No. Of course not.
Jason Concepcion: The legal community has finally read the terms and conditions of the Krispy Kreme donuts for vaccine’s promotion, and they’ve made some startling discoveries. The big news is that Krispy Kreme isn’t just giving away pastries to people who got their shot, they also included a special anti-vaxx clause so as not to exclude individuals of the Newsmax mindset. Specifically, Krispy Kreme says if you make the, quote “highly personal decision” to battle COVID on ultra-hard mode, you will still get free donuts for nine Mondays between March and May. Line up folks! Not too close . . . or, but that’s your choice also. Immunized people can get donuts every day this year, so they’ve got a leg up in the official Krispy Kreme cavities and tooth decay contest. Big question is: why are they so anxious to give these donuts away?
Akilah Hughes: Yeah, to like anybody. Anybody who wants one, including the people who are making the personal decision—which also: not a personal decision. It’s a pandemic.
Gideon Resnick: It’s the opposite of a personal decision.
Jason Concepcion: Yes, exactly.
Akilah Hughes: It’s a very public decision.
Gideon Resnick: I think, I think Krispy Kreme also has a shrimp tail problem. I think that that’s, that’s,—there’s something, some overlap that’s happening here. You know, they’ve got to give them away.
Akilah Hughes: They’re a little crunchy, you know what it is.
Jason Concepcion: Well, I liked to shout out Krispy Kreme for honoring the highly personal decision of the virus to move where it wants to.
Akilah Hughes: [laughs] If it would like some Krispy Kremes, the door’s open. Well, Jason, thank you so much for stopping by. It’s always a dream, but we’ve been wanting to have you on the show for a while. So is there anything else you’d like to plug?
Jason Concepcion: Just listen to Takeline every Tuesday wherever you get your podcast, and All Caps NBA on the Takeline on YouTube channel every Friday. Follow, subscribe. Give us the five star ratings or we will burn your house. Not really, but like kind of.
Akilah Hughes: Yeah, just like smash that notification bell—
Jason Concepcion: Please!
Akilah Hughes: Do all those things.
Gideon Resnick: Buy five devices, and sign up on all of them. That’s what I did.
Jason Concepcion: Yes. I love it.
Akilah Hughes: Do it up. And those are the headlines. One last thing before we go: this week on Rubicon, Brian Beutler talks to the Roosevelt Institute’s Mike Console about President Biden’s three trillion dollar economic relief package and whether it warrants comparisons to FDR’s New Deal. Listen and subscribe to Rubicon on Apple podcast or anywhere you listen to your shows.
Gideon Resnick: That is all for today. If you like he show, make sure you subscribe, leave a review, get free donuts for the right reasons and tell your friends to listen.
Akilah Hughes: And if you’re into reading, and not just tweets where brands talk like teens like me, What A Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at Crooked.com/subscribe. I’m Akilah Hughes.
Gideon Resnick: I’m Gideon Resnick.
[together] And hurry up Ever Given!
Akilah Hughes: Just un-lodge yourself. How hard is it?
Gideon Resnick: Listen, I’ve been stuck in worse, and I’ve gotten out. All it takes is a little gumption.
Akilah Hughes: Exactly. Or butter or something.
Gideon Resnick: Butter, elbow grease, gumption: you got it.
Akilah Hughes: It’s a good recipe.
Gideon Resnick: Ever Gumption. [laughs]
Akilah Hughes: What A Day is a production of Crooked Media.
Gideon Resnick: It’s recorded and mixed by Charlotte Landes.
Akilah Hughes: Sonia Htoon is our system producer.
Gideon Resnick: Our head writer is Jon Millstein and our executive producers are Katie Long, Akilah Hughes and me.
Akilah Hughes: Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.