In This Episode
- President Biden spoke in Brussels after meeting with European allies on Thursday, and announced that the U.S. would commit more than $1 billion in humanitarian assistance to Ukraine and welcome 100,000 refugees.
- Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is poised to sign two GOP-backed bills into law: the notorious Don’t Say Gay bill and the Stop WOKE Act. Florida House Representative Michele Rayner joins us to discuss how they plan to fight these measures, even if they get signed into law.
- And in headlines: North Korea tested its biggest intercontinental ballistic missile yet, the Biden administration said it will speed up the asylum process for refugees at the southern border, and the European Union finalized a sweeping antitrust law targeting some of the world’s largest tech companies.
- Equality Florida – https://www.eqfl.org/
- Michele Rayner for Congress – https://micheleforflorida.com/
Follow us on Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/whataday/
Gideon Resnick: It’s Friday, March 25th. I’m Gideon Resnick.
Tre’vell Anderson: And I’m Tre’vell Anderson, and this is What A Day, the podcast that’s dedicated to never finding out who Morbius is and what his goals are.
Gideon Resnick: Yes, sorry for mentioning the name of the upcoming Jared Leto-fronted Marvel movie “Morbius.” It is our solemn promise that it will never happen again.
Tre’vell Anderson: You’re safe here, safe from Morbius.
Gideon Resnick: He doesn’t even know you exist here. On today’s show, a Florida lawmaker tells us how she plans to fight the state’s Don’t Say Gay Bill and the Stop WOKE Act, even if they soon get signed into law.
[Michele Rayner] I cannot complain and hope and wait for someone to save us. We have to be the ones to save ourselves.
Gideon Resnick: Plus, the Oscars are this Sunday, and we are both going to have some predictions for you.
Tre’vell Anderson: But first, let’s talk about some updates on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which has now reached the one month mark. President Biden spoke in Brussels after meeting with European allies on Thursday, and he made this big announcement about humanitarian help.
[clip of President Biden] Today, I’m announcing the United States is prepared to commit more than $1 billion in humanitarian assistance to help get relief to millions of Ukrainians affected by the war in Ukraine. Many Ukrainian refugees will, uh, will wish to stay in Europe, closer to their homes, but we’ve also welcome 100,000 Ukrainians United States with a focus on reuniting families.
Tre’vell Anderson: So that was some of the big news from Biden. Gideon, can you tell us more about that?
Gideon Resnick: Yeah. So as of our recording time at 9:30 Eastern on Thursday night, the administration is still reportedly trying to work out some of the details of admitting that large amount of Ukrainian refugees who do want to come to America. Now, as The Washington Post notes, that 100,000 figure would represent a really significant resettlement in the U.S. historically, but it’s really quite tiny in comparison to the more than 3.6 million Ukrainians who are estimated to be displaced thus far. Poland, for example, has already taken in more than two million. There’s actually a bit more Biden immigration policy news that we’re going to get into later in the show, by the way so keep that in the back of your noggin. But in addition to the pledged aid, Biden and European leaders announced yet another round of sanctions, impacting Russia’s Legislature and its members, among other individuals.
Tre’vell Anderson: What are those other punitive actions that they took?
Gideon Resnick: Yeah. So there is quite a bit of concern about the possibility of Russia employing chemical weapons, and G7 leaders issued a really strong statement warning against that happening. Biden himself said that such an action would quote, “trigger a response in kind” end quote, which thankfully he did not elaborate on—I do not want an ulcer. He was also asked by reporters if he supported removing Russia from the group of 20—that’s the assembly of the world’s largest economies. So Russian President Vladimir Putin is reportedly planning to attend the next G20 summit later this year. Biden said that he would support Russia being excluded from it as a result of their invasion of Ukraine, but that the decision would ultimately be up to the full group of leaders. He said that he also raised the possibility with those other leaders of inviting Ukraine if other nations objected to excluding Russia. So that’s a kind of quick update on where some diplomatic things stand when it comes to Ukraine and Russia. We will, of course, have a lot more soon.
Tre’vell Anderson: Turning to some domestic issues: right now a slew of GOP-backed bills are piling up on Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’s desk after being passed by the state legislature. Among them is the notorious Don’t Say Gay bill that would outlaw discussions of LGBTQ+ identities in primary school. There’s also the Stop Work Act, a bill that would limit discussions of critical race theory in schools and workplaces.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, just a constant reminder of how stupid both of these are. So we’ve talked about both of these bills on the show before and how many people have spoken out against them over the past few weeks. But this week, employees of Disney staged their own protest. Can you tell us a little bit why?
Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah, so they called out their employer, the House of Mouse, for having donated in the past two years to every sponsor and co-sponsor of the Don’t Say Gay bill. And following a confusing to me, response by Disney CEO that left many dissatisfied, a group of LGBTQ+ and ally Disney employees across the country staged a walkout on Tuesday, including a one Raven-Symone, who along with her “Raven’s Home” cast, walked off their own set.
Gideon Resnick: Right on. And based on personal experience, it seems that every Raven is great. So even with all of this pushback, DeSantis has signaled strong support for both the Don’t Say Gay Bill and Stop WOKE Act, implying that he is likely going to sign them into law soon. But Tre’vell, you had an opportunity to talk to a Florida lawmaker about all of this, right?
Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah. So yesterday I spoke to Florida House Representative Michele Rayner. They are the first openly queer Black woman to be elected to Florida’s state legislature and are running for Congress in this year’s midterm elections. You may have heard this viral clip of her giving testimony against the Don’t Say Gay bill back when it was being debated in the House.
[clip of Michele Rayner] So I’m here to tell the LGBTQ babies who are watching: you matter, I see you, you are loved, you are perfect just the way you are.
Gideon Resnick: Wow. So what did the two of you actually talk about throughout this conversation?
Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah, so I started by asking them what it’s been like seeing the people they call colleagues support these two measures that impact the very communities they belong to.
Michele Rayner: It’s been interesting because it’s really the cognitive dissonance for me, it’s really the gas-lighting for me. Because you will have in those moments folks will say, Oh, Michelle, I love you so much, I love you so much. And then when I am saying this policy, this bill is harmful to women—you know we have the 15-week abortion ban are harmful to people who are able to have abortions. Or, you know, when I say, Hey, listen, this is harmful to Black folks, The Stop Work Act, or as my friend calls it, the “Don’t Say Race Act” or to LGBTQ people like me and my family, you know, this Don’t Say Ggay bill, it is harmful because I’m telling you—and often it’s emotional, it’s personal. Policy is personal. We can’t just act like it doesn’t exist. And then, Oh, I love you so much, but I’m going to let you know, I have no choice but to go ahead and be supportive. And sometimes it’s not even a quiet yes, it’s a vocal yes. And that to me, lets me know, OK, this is more than just “I have to do this to make sure I can get reelected,” this is really about how you feel and how you really, truly view people who show up in this world like myself.
Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah. I’m wondering, what have your constituents been saying to you as these types of measures have been debated and passed and will eventually be signed into law?
Michele Rayner: You know, I’ve been getting a lot of ‘thank you’s,’ my wife has been getting a lot of ‘thank you’s’. And to me, it’s weird when someone says thank you for doing what’s right because that’s what I do, right? There is a responsibility that comes with me having a public life, me being elected, me having a wife and we’re out. And so I’ve had a lot of constituents who are grateful. I’ve got some constituents who asked a team member of mine, Well, why does Rep. Rayner, why she always talk about the gay stuff? My team member said, Listen, you know, she would like to be talking about housing and making sure that kids have good education and working on some of the homeowner’s insurance problems that we have in our state, but, you know, her hands are tied. And as the only woman, LGBTQ woman, in the Legislature right now, I have to respond. If there is an injustice happening to anyone that’s marginalized, it’s going to happen everywhere, and that train is never going to be late. So I don’t have the luxury of saying that’s not my fight, I don’t get to talk about it.
Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah. You know, Florida has a history of being like a testing ground for policies that end up, you know, becoming national, right, or spreading to other states. There’s HB1, which criminalizes protesting. There’s the ban that you already mentioned on abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. As someone who is in the state legislature who’s now running for higher office, I’m wondering if you think about these types of attacks that are happening on your constituents in Florida spreading, right, to other states who are looking at Florida as an example of how they can continue to oppress certain marginalized communities.
Michele Rayner: I think the best case study we have seen as Florida being a test state for, you know, horrific legislation is the Stand Your Ground bill. Florida was one of, if not, I believe, the first state to pass it. Spread throughout the rest of the country. I mean, that’s actually what prompted me to run for elected office to begin with because of my experience as an attorney dealing with the Stand Your Ground law. So I know that when these types of insidious bills that really prey on marginalized people, that these bills will spread. And we’ve seen it happening, we’re seeing it in Idaho and Texas and Georgia. And as I’m looking to higher office, you know, my parents were in the civil rights movement so I’ve always kind of had this idea of really the federal government, a strong Congress, a strong Senate coming in to save the states when they’re not doing what’s right. We could sit and fight a losing battle in the state legislature. It is a supermajority. It’s like three or four away from being a supermajority. Or we can make sure that we can do the things in the federal government to protect the people from folks who just want to have power for power sake.
Tre’vell Anderson: Now, your background is as an attorney, so I want to ask if Governor DeSantis signs these bills, which he’s expected to do, what are kind of these legal avenues or other options that Floridians might have to like kind of prevent or stunt some of the harmful effects that might happen from some of these bills?
Michele Rayner: Well, I think there’s a couple of causes of action that can happen. There could be a cause of action if someone who believes that they’re harmed by this bill, whether it’s the Stop WOKE Act, whether it’s the Don’t Say Gay, there is a student that’s in a school and he believes that he or she or they have been harmed by rhetoric or not being able to discuss their family or whatever that may be, their parents could sue and say that this bill is harmful, that this bill is unconstitutional. I think on its face that this bill is, most of these bills are vague and they’re overbroad. And let me tell you, I think they’ve just done purposefully. It’s not done like, Oh my gosh, like, I didn’t know I needed to include that in there. It is done purposely to cause a legal challenge because we now have a very conservative Florida Supreme Court, many of whom, including the new chief justice that was handpicked by Ron DeSantis. So I believe—and you know, I’m sure there’s other folks that may be listening—but I believe that it was done purposely to cause a challenge so then the Supreme Court because it’s going to get all the way there—can say Governor DeSantis, You’re absolutely right, you are able to discriminate against LGBTQ folks, Black folks or whatever, in this way. And so don’t be fooled. This is a slate of bills. This is a constant and consistent attack on folks who do not look like Ron DeSantis, who do not love like Ron DeSantis, who do not think like Ron DeSantis, and who do not have the financial wherewithal that Ron DeSantis has. So unless you are a straight, white, cisgender, heterosexual, wealthy man, you lost in this session. But if we don’t do something to change, you’re going to lose in the state of Florida.
Tre’vell Anderson: So answer this for me then: why is it important for you as an individual, as a Black queer woman who’s in this particular position in the state legislature then to keep fighting against DeSantis, against your Republican colleagues? Like how do you not lose hope?
Michele Rayner: Some days are harder than others because you know you come home and you’re like, What am I doing, right? I don’t have to do this. But I also understand the assignment that’s on my life, right? I’m very clear that this has less to do about me trying to hold on or to retain some type of power, but it’s more about making this road better for people that are coming behind me—just like my parents did for me. I cannot complain and hope and wait for someone to save us. We have to be the ones to save ourselves. That is why I keep getting up every morning and doing this.
Tre’vell Anderson: Definitely. All right. Well, thank you so much, Michele. We really appreciate it.
Michele Rayner: Thank you so much for having me. I totally enjoyed this conversation.
Tre’vell Anderson: And Gideon, that’s my conversation with Florida House Representative Michele Rayner. Both of the Don’t Say Gay bill and the Stop WOKE Act are awaiting Governor Ron DeSantis’s signature, but we’ll put a link to some resources in our show notes to help those who would be affected by them. And that is the latest for now.
Gideon Resnick: Let’s get to some headlines.
Gideon Resnick: North Korea tested an intercontinental ballistic missile, or an ICBM, on Thursday, and it is said to be its biggest one yet—yikes. This is part of the country’s five-year plan to upgrade its nuclear weapons arsenal, including ICBMs that are capable of reaching the U.S.—We do not like to hear that at all. Japan, South Korea, and the US all condemned North Korea’s test, which was its 12th missile launch this year. The Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida called the launch reckless and unacceptable after the missile landed about 100 miles off Japan’s coast. And South Korea responded by launching its own ballistic and cruise missiles. This is all worrisome, to put it mildly, especially because nuclear negotiations between North Korea and the U.S. have been stalled since 2019.
Tre’vell Anderson: And not to mention, we got a lot going on right now. I’mma need the Koreas—
Gideon Resnick: Considerable amount of—
Tre’vell Anderson: Imma need the Koreas to slow down. All right?
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, I can’t handle it.
Tre’vell Anderson: On top of announcing that the U.S. will welcome Ukrainian refugees, the Biden administration said yesterday that it will also speed up the asylum process for refugees at the southern border. That’s been a crisis since 2014, when an influx of Central American women and unaccompanied minors began to approach the border, seeking refuge from violence and political instability back in their home countries. The White House said it will now allow asylum officers to review cases instead of just immigration judges. As of last month, there were over 670,000 cases backlogged in the system. The administration hopes this change will shorten the average wait time for cases to be heard from five years down to six months. And the new policy comes at a crucial time—border officials say that this month they’re on pace to detain 200,000 more migrants trying to cross the border illegally out of desperation. However, many immigration advocates are worried that rushing cases might deny some asylum seekers due process. Advocates are also calling for the end of Title 42, a pandemic-related health order from the CDC that allows authorities to rapidly deport migrants back to their home countries. The policy was implemented under the Trump administration, allegedly under the direction of Stephen Miller, but its enforcement has only gone up under Biden. The CDC will decide whether to extend that order by this coming Wednesday.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, I don’t like where that is headed. Like so many of us who have been American tourists in Europe, some of the biggest U.S. tech giants are about to be humbled and admonished. Yesterday, the European Union finalized a sweeping antitrust law targeting some of the world’s largest tech companies, and it’s called the Digital Markets Act. So the law fits with the EU’s tendency to be decidedly tougher on Big Tech than our government, and it will confer benefits for users, while also making it a little easier for young tech companies to challenge the monsters like Google, Meta, Amazon, and Apple. It may also force Apple to allow alternatives to its App Store on Apple products, removing a huge source of revenue for the company, which takes 30% of every App Store transaction—that is quite a hefty tip. It would also make it harder for Meta and Google to do ad targeting, which is their main financial engine, of course, and the reason that they have a file buried deep in their servers labelled Gideon-Resnick-soup-preferences-underscore-favorite-smell. You will never know the truth, Google. I have tricked you! The law is expected to go into effect early next year, and if companies violate any of the policies, they could face significant fines. A final vote will take place soon in the European Parliament, which includes representatives from the 27 countries in the EU, but if we are being honest, this is a done deal. That vote is merely a formality.
Tre’vell Anderson: On the issue of conflicts of interests for Supreme Court justices, the right has issued a resounding “hold my gavel.” Yesterday, CBS News and The Washington Post published text messages between former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and Ginni Thomas, the spouse of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, where she repeatedly counseled Meadows to continue trying to overturn the 2020 election. These messages were sent in the months following Trump’s loss to Biden and around the time of the Capitol insurrection. Meadows turned them over to the House Committee investigating the January 6th attack. Highlights include this text Thomas sent on November 19th regarding false allegations of voter fraud from pro-Trump lawyer and future Dancing With the Stars contestant Sidney Powell.
Gideon Resnick: No, don’t you dare.
Tre’vell Anderson: Quote, “Mark, don’t want to wake you. Sounds like Sydney and her team are getting inundated with evidence of fraud. Make a plan. Release the Kraken and save us from the left taking America down.
Gideon Resnick: You know, it’s a good thing that none of these people are important or in any proximity to important people. That’s at least a relief.
Tre’vell Anderson: Well, interestingly enough, Thomas has said in the past that her husband doesn’t talk to her about his work as a Supreme Court Justice and she doesn’t talk to him about her work freeing Krakens, but all this seems pretty egregious in light of the fact that at the time Thomas was sending these text messages to the White House, the Supreme Court was actively ruling on cases trying to overturn the election.
Gideon Resnick: I don’t think that we’re doing so great. You know, just little reminders of things like that.
Tre’vell Anderson: Listen, the stuff that keeps coming out of the January 6th investigation—super intriguing stuff, OK? That’s all I could say.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, we’re getting like the monthly Dickensian, like, episodic versions of this novel unfolding. And it’s not good. We don’t like to hear it. Don’t text people “Release the Kraken” in basically any context. And those are the headlines. We’ll be back after Some ads some ads.
Tre’vell Anderson: It’s Friday WAD squad, and when we look back on 2021, a year of new presidents, old pandemics, insurrections, and building back better as much as is possible within the limits of our rickety-ass government, there’s one thing that sticks out: the movies. That will be the theme of the weekend as we all gear up for the 94th Academy Awards on Sunday. Whether you watch this year’s movies at home, watch them in a theater while masked and vaguely on edge, or didn’t watch them at all, it’s a pretty good crop and we’re excited to see who wins out. The most nominated movie this year was “The Power of the Dog” with 12 nominations, “Encanto” is favored for Best Animated Picture, and “Summer of Soul” is favorite for Best Documentary. But we wanted to dig a little deeper here and share some of our hot takes, or WAD takes if you will, about who might go home with a little gold man on Sunday. So Gideon, what are some of your predictions?
Gideon Resnick: Drum roll, please.
Tre’vell Anderson: All right.
Gideon Resnick: I think that Coda is going to win Best Picture. Have you seen Coda?
Tre’vell Anderson: I have. I cried my eyes out. It was everything.
Gideon Resnick: OK, I have not. So that’s a great recommendation because I trust you. I think that’s going to win. And then Campion is going to be director. They’re going to split like that because Power of the Dog is, you know, a thing everybody says they really like but is too inaccessible, I think, to be like the actual best picture. But the one that I want to actually see is Don’t Look Up just for the chaos of it. But what do you think?
Tre’vell Anderson: I’m looking forward to Beyoncé losing and not getting an Oscar again.
Gideon Resnick: Shame, shame.
Tre’vell Anderson: She is nominated for her song from King Richard, and she reportedly will be performing, live streaming in from the Compton tennis courts.
Gideon Resnick: That is very cool. Who is she up against?
Tre’vell Anderson: She’s up against Billie Eilish and Finneas. She’s up against Lin-Manuel Miranda, who, if he wins, will get that coveted EGOT, right? He’s probably one of the frontrunners there. Interestingly enough, I’m talking about the song category and haven’t said anything about the movies themselves. I’m rooting for Aunjanue Ellis in the Best Supporting Actress category. She’s not going to win, but she deserves all the attention she’s getting. And you know, who else? You know, y’all know how we go. I’m rooting for everybody Black in the words of Issa Rae.
Gideon Resnick: That is great. Is this going to be fun? Like, do we think this is actually going to be fun compared to like the previous years?
Tre’vell Anderson: Well, we have Amy Schumer, Regina Hall, and Wanda Sykes as like a trio of hosts. And I love at least two of those three ladies. And so I think that’s going to be great for us.
Gideon Resnick: I’m going to let the audience figure out who—
Tre’vell Anderson: No comment.
Gideon Resnick: —the third is. We’ll leave it at that. That is what we’re thinking about the Oscars this weekend. Make your pools, I guess. But it’s not over until that little gold man sings. That would be disturbing if that happened. That is all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe, leave a review, tell us your soup preferences so we can tell Big Tech, and tell your friends to listen.
Tre’vell Anderson: And if you’re into reading, and not just Ginni Thomas’ dangerous texts like me, What A Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at Crooked.com/subscribe. I’m Tre’vell Anderson:
Tre’vell Anderson: I am Gideon Resnick
[together] And be gone, Morbius!
Tre’vell Anderson: You’re not welcome here.
Gideon Resnick: No, you’re too scary. And whatever Jared Leto did to prepare for this role is also too scary. He needs to relax.
Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah, take a step back. It’s OK. Let’s stop doing the method acting thing, that’s so early 2000.
Gideon Resnick: Just be you, Jared, you’re 30 Seconds to Mars self. We love it. What A Day is a production of Crooked Media. It’s recorded and mixed by Bill Lancz. Jazzi Marine and Raven Yamamoto are our associate producers. Our head writer is Jon Millstein, and our executive producers are Leo Duran and me, Gideon Resnick. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.