In This Episode
- Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has officially entered the 2024 presidential race. In a glitchy announcement on Twitter Wednesday, DeSantis said he’s running for president to lead a “great American comeback,” and he’s using the slate of harmful, regressive laws he’s passed in Florida as evidence that he can get that job done. The ACLU’s Gillian Branstetter, who’s been keeping tabs on his legislative record, joins us to explain the dangers of the DeSantis agenda.
- And in headlines: debt ceiling talks between the White House and House Republicans once again ended yesterday without an agreement, Target is removing some of its Pride collection merchandise following conservative backlash and threats to its employees, and we say goodbye to music legend Tina Turner.
- Vote Save America | Fuck Bans: Leave Queer Kids Alone – https://votesaveamerica.com/fuckbans
- Scientific American: (Opinion) Fascism’s History Offers Lessons about Today’s Attacks on Education – https://tinyurl.com/2p8f4b46
- Vox: Ron DeSantis is following a trail blazed by a Hungarian authoritarian – https://tinyurl.com/ye757jhp
- What A Day – YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/@whatadaypodcast
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Tre’vell Anderson: It’s Thursday, May 25th. I’m Tre’vell Anderson.
Josie Duffy Rice: And I’m Josie Duffy Rice and this is What A Day where we would like to publicly thank the ghost that’s been causing audio problems at every recent Republican campaign announcement.
Tre’vell Anderson: Liberal Audio Ghoul, welcome to the resistance.
Josie Duffy Rice: We are so glad that your unfinished business had something to do with microphones.
Tre’vell Anderson: Absolutely. Turn them all off. Okay.
Josie Duffy Rice: All of them. [music break] On today’s show, House Republicans are trying to play hardball over the debt ceiling crisis but struggling to stay united. Plus, we say goodbye to a music legend.
Tre’vell Anderson: But first, after weeks and weeks and weeks of speculation, Florida governor and pain in many a ass, Ron DeSantis has officially entered the race to be the Republican nominee for the 2024 presidential election. Side note, his last name is apparently pronounced Dee Santis, not Da Santis.
Josie Duffy Rice: It’s too late.
Tre’vell Anderson: In case you were wondering Josie.
Josie Duffy Rice: We’re not changing it. [laughter] It’s too late, don’t care.
Tre’vell Anderson: He’s got to deal with it.
Josie Duffy Rice: He’s got to deal with it.
Tre’vell Anderson: Anyway, he posted a video to Twitter announcing his candidacy shortly before doing a planned Twitter spaces with Twitter’s owner, and also pain in many a ass, Elon Musk, but the Twitter spaces was initially so glitchy it took him 20 minutes or so to actually start speaking. It was so bad, the British tabloid The Daily Mail came up with this headline, Ron’s Disaster. Did you tune in, Josie?
Josie Duffy Rice: I did not. I was trying to practice as the youth say, self-care and not tune in. However, now I wish I had because it sounds like it was a true riot.
Tre’vell Anderson: It was something, that’s for sure.
Josie Duffy Rice: Uh huh.
Tre’vell Anderson: I only lasted about 10 minutes, if I’m being honest. Once everything got going and I actually left right after one of the first questions that DeSantis answered. He was asked by some guy named David Sacks who was hosting the conversation.
Josie Duffy Rice: Mm. Another nightmare.
Tre’vell Anderson: Yes, David, by the way, for those who don’t know, is a tech entrepreneur, and investor who is very buddy buddy with Elon. So that can’t be good.
Josie Duffy Rice: Mm hmm.
Tre’vell Anderson: Anyway, the question that made me leave was about DeSantis’s response to the travel advisory that the NAACP issued recently, telling everybody who is basically not a cis het white man, that Florida was unsafe. Here’s what he had to say to that.
[clip of Ron DeSantis] Claiming that Florida’s unsafe is a total farce. I mean, are you kidding me? You look at cities around this country, they are awash in crime. In Florida, our crime rate is at a 50 year low. You look at the top 25 cities for crime in America. Florida does not have a single one amongst the top 25. And if you look at cities like Baltimore and Chicago, you got kids more likely to get shot than to receive a first class education. Yet, I don’t see the NAACP batting an eye about all the outrage and the carnage that’s happening in those areas.
Josie Duffy Rice: Okay. You know, this is going to get me all worked up, [laughter] but I got to say something.
Tre’vell Anderson: Mm hmm.
Josie Duffy Rice: Number one, basically everywhere in America is at a 50 year low of crime, at least hovering around a 50 year low. So congrats, Florida. You’re like everybody else. Okay, I’m done. I was going to go into a whole thing. [laughter] But I’m not going to go into a whole thing. I just feel like Ron DeSantis was built in a lab to infuriate me [laughter] personally.
Tre’vell Anderson: I share that same feeling, Josie, I legitimately could not stomach it. The lies, the spin, the purposeful conflation. So I had to get the hell up out of dodge for my own mental health and sanity reasons. But before I dipped, I did have two major takeaways. One, Twitter is officially an alt right social media platform. They spent entirely too much time calling Elon Musk, a hero of free speech and kissing Elon’s behind so their breath had to have smelled like shit. It was that bad, Josie. And then number two, DeSantis says that he wants to lead, quote, “our great American comeback.” And he’s using the slate of anti-Black, homophobic, transphobic, anti-immigrant, anti-bodily autonomy laws that they’ve passed in Florida as evidence that he can get such a job done on the national level. Also, our great American comeback is not too far off from Trump’s Make America Great Again. And I think that that should concern all of us.
Josie Duffy Rice: We’ve done the great America slogan thing like, we just did it.
Tre’vell Anderson: We just did it.
Josie Duffy Rice: It’s too much. Also, apparently he has merch out that says like Make America Florida.
Tre’vell Anderson: Which my God today.
Josie Duffy Rice: Which is like, a.) Trump slogan, but–
Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah.
Josie Duffy Rice: Also not creative or good. Which is [laughter] just the worst of all worlds.
Tre’vell Anderson: It’s what we have to deal with.
Josie Duffy Rice: To get a better idea of DeSantis’s sinister worldview, I recently spoke to Gillian Branstetter with the ACLU. She works with our women’s rights and LGBTQ and HIV projects, and she’s been keeping tabs on all of the awful legislation and policies that DeSantis has pushed for and signed into law since becoming governor. We covered a lot of ground. It was a great interview, but she started with the bill that eventually became DeSantis’s blueprint for his far right agenda.
Gillian Branstetter: Last year he signed into law what has commonly been known as the don’t say gay bill. And what this does is targets a school curriculum or school discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity. And if that is broad and vague, that is very much the point of that law. It is meant to frame sexual orientation and gender identity, the very concepts that those things as exist as inherently obscene and not appropriate for school and the impact that we’ve already seen this have in schools across Florida is clear. Teachers are afraid to even invoke the idea that they are queer or that they have a spouse of the same gender. They’ve been made very cautious around respecting the rights of queer students that they have and certainly mentioning anything to do with queer people in the context of curriculum. And this has meant pulling books off of school shelves, this has meant erasing parts of our history that queer people are uh found in. And uh, you know, this is certainly paired with a overall censorship regime that DeSantis has put forward, banning books on Black history, banning books just telling the story about the history of racism in this country. Then over the course of last year, he began through Florida’s Board of Medicine, um much of which he appointed [phone buzz in background] and hand-picked. He began to target gender affirming care for transgender youth and tried to ban gender affirming care through the rulemaking process of the Board of Medicine. And then that was then reinforced through statute, uh just a few weeks ago, in a bill that was passed through the Florida legislator and signed by him. And uh the bill goes even further than the Board of Medicine rule, the bill bans gender affirming care for any trans person under the age of 18, prohibits public funding for uh gender affirming care for a trans person of any age. So that’s Medicaid funds, that’s anyone who relies on public insurance, state employees. And most alarmingly, it labels gender affirming care as cause for removing a child from a parent’s custody. And notably, the way the bill was written, it frames gender affirming care as a danger, even if just somebody in the household has received it. So it’s not just threatening to remove transgender youth from their parent’s custody, as nightmarish as that is. Uh. It extends to, say, a transgender person who is themselves a parent. This is a deeply alarming piece of legislation. And by signing this law, DeSantis is joining more than a dozen states that have banned this care. And the activists pushing these bills, the politicians writing and signing them. They have been very clear that their goal is eradicating the very idea that a transgender person exists.
Josie Duffy Rice: You know, these bills have been kind of a way of DeSantis trying to make a national name for himself even more. It’s a way of setting himself up as this like opponent to former President Trump. But they’re not just strategic, right? I mean, they have a very real impact on people’s lives. And talk to us a little bit more about how Floridians right now are suffering under this legislation.
Gillian Branstetter: Oftentimes when I’ve been speaking with reporters and other folks about the bans and gender affirming care, not just in Florida, but really nationally, like I said, the very contours of life for transgender people and our families in this country is being radically rewritten. And there’s this impetus of, well, why don’t you just leave? And I think it’s important to understand that that is one, not a silver bullet. And, you know, there are bills in Congress seeking to do everything that I just listed all, at the national level. Right. And it’s people’s homes. It’s where they have connections and nobody should have to. And most people will not be able to. I mean, ask yourself, especially if you have children, what it would take to relocate your entire family. You’re talking about finding new jobs. You’re talking about finding new homes. It is no easy, you know, these aren’t pieces on a chessboard, right? People’s lives are messy and complex. And part of the thing that you build around a home is stability for accounting for all those complexities that you have in your life. The short answer is that most people won’t be able to and a lot of people won’t want to. You know, I think there’s a bad tendency in particularly progressive politics as sort of writing off red states or saying, you know, good riddance or whatever else. Right. And I think it’s important to note that for all the efforts of Ron DeSantis or anyone else for that matter, to target queer folks and trans folks and, you know, seek to functionally erase them from public life, I also know the queer community in Florida is stronger than that. And I also know that they’re not done fighting. Also that they’re not alone. And I think it’s really important that our allies get as engaged and as loud as we need them to be here.
Josie Duffy Rice: That sort of leads into my next and last question. I think that a lot of people think, well, this isn’t my issue because I’m not trans and I want to be clear that it shouldn’t have to feel personal to be engaged in this fight, because this is a fight that everybody should be engaged in, whether or not it feels, quote unquote, “personal” to you. But I think people also miss the point that this sets up a worse world for everybody. The legislation that Ron DeSantis is trying to pass, the invasion of privacy, the regulating people’s home lives. I was wondering if you could talk a little bit about that, the broader implications as well of this complete targeted attack on the trans community in Florida?
Gillian Branstetter: I think it’s important to talk about the bills that we referenced earlier that are sort of explicitly targeting trans folks uh within the context of the six week abortion ban that he also signed uh the draconian slate of restrictions he is placing on immigrants and undocumented folks. Right. You know, he has very explicitly modeled himself off of authoritarian governments like Viktor Orbán in Hungary. Right. These are uh taken as a whole, protecting a very narrow vision of what Ron DeSantis thinks your life should look like and uh what Ron DeSantis thinks our national identity should look like. And it is a very white one. It is a very straight one, and it’s a very cisgender one. And at the core of a lot of this, right, is a specific idea of what men are for and what women are for. It’s for this very rigid understanding of gender. And gender is best understood as sort of a list of rules, right, that you are forced to follow in ways big and small that is enforced against you socially, economically, politically, legally, and that you’re invited to enforce against other people. And for that reason, I think transphobia is very useful to authoritarians. Our very existence upsets that logic at the core of their worldview, this very rigid understanding of gender. I think transgender people thrive in legal and political environments that center autonomy, that center liberty, that center freedom and protect those just incredibly core values. And trans people are repressed in political environments that reject those values, that reject the idea that individual rights are even a concept. Right. And that believe that there really are just these extremely rigid rules that people need to follow at the service of the state. And Ron DeSantis is not as explicit as somebody like Viktor Orbán, but he’s using all the same tools. He’s enacting all the same policies, he’s following the same lead.
Josie Duffy Rice: That was my conversation with Gillian Branstetter with the ACLU. Unfortunately, now that DeSantis has made his ambitions for higher office very clear, you’ll be hearing his name on this show more often, although we promise we’ll try to keep it to as few mentions as we can.
Tre’vell Anderson: We’re going to do our best job.
Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah, we don’t want to talk about him either, so we’ll try to keep it to a minimum and we’ll keep you updated on whether or not his actual campaign ends up glitching out like his announcement on Twitter yesterday. We will be back after some ads. [music break] [AD BREAK]
Tre’vell Anderson: Let’s wrap up with some headlines.
Tre’vell Anderson: We are now one week away from June 1st, the hard deadline for the U.S. government to raise the debt ceiling or risk defaulting on its financial obligations. Talks between the White House and House Republicans ended yesterday without an agreement, though, for what it’s worth, and it’s probably not worth much, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy described them as positive. And complicating matters for our friend Kevin, members of the House Freedom Caucus are essentially egging him on to reject any deal that doesn’t guarantee the steep government spending cuts they’ve been demanding from the start. Other conservative lawmakers are also openly questioning whether the Treasury Department’s June 1st deadline is even real. But what is real is the sense of dread that’s starting to creep across the global economy. Yesterday, the CBOE volatility Index, what’s often called Wall Street’s fear gauge hit a three week high, which is not good FYI in case you all were wondering.
Josie Duffy Rice: I don’t love it. I don’t love the idea of a fear gauge at all, to be honest. [laughter] Typhoon Mawar made landfall in Guam early yesterday morning as a Category four storm battering the U.S. territory with high speed winds and lightning storms that left many of its residents without power. Mawar brought 140 mile per hour winds that actually broke the wind sensors and radar equipment at the island’s National Weather Service station. And while the full scope of the damage isn’t yet clear. Video footage taken by residents show trees losing their branches and huge waves crashing over the island’s shores. As we sat down to record the show at 9:30 p.m. Eastern Wednesday, Mawar was upgraded to a super typhoon, and forecasters warn it could gather more strength as it tracks west towards the Philippines and Taiwan.
Tre’vell Anderson: The union representing journalists at The New York Times has finally reached a tentative labor agreement with the newspaper’s management. The New York Times Guild, which represents about 1500 newsroom workers, announced the deal Tuesday. It comes after more than two years of negotiations and a one day walkout back in December, their first major strike in decades. The new labor agreement, if ratified, will give the newsroom’s unionized workers an immediate 12 and a half percent salary bump to make up for the years spent negotiating higher pay and will raise the required minimum salary from $37000 to $65000. $37,000 in New York City is absurd. They should have been offering that to nobody in the first place.
Josie Duffy Rice: Mm hmm.
Tre’vell Anderson: The package would also guarantee more benefits, including paid leave. Bill Baker, the chair of the Guild, said in a statement that the new contract, quote, “shows that the company cannot take us for granted and must be held accountable.” Union members are expected to ratify the deal by the end of the week.
Josie Duffy Rice: Target is removing some of its Pride Collection merchandise after receiving backlash from conservatives. The company says it made the move following reports that people have knocked over Pride merchandise in stores and threatened their employees both in person and on social media. While Target isn’t getting rid of the whole Pride collection, it’s unclear which products are going to be removed. This all comes after tough, friendly swimwear for Trans Femmes at Target recently received backlash, in particular as conservatives falsely reported that it was being marketed to children. The company is also getting heat from LGBTQ advocacy groups and even elected officials like California Governor Gavin Newsom, who say Target shouldn’t be backing down in the face of anti-LGBTQ attacks but should instead double down on their alleged commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. But it’s hard. It’s hard to know exactly how to proceed when fascists are threatening your employees. And also, look, let’s be real here. If you’re going to come for corporate pride collections, come after them because they’re ugly, not for what they stand for.
Tre’vell Anderson: Yes. And you have plenty of options of ugly things to want to remove out of the Target pride collection. Just saying, you know, they’re never cute. You know, maybe you get a laugh out of one or two of them, but you never want to, like put them on and go to the clurb. You know what I mean?
Josie Duffy Rice: Right. I don’t go to the clurb anymore, but [laughter] I imagine that if I were to go to the clurb, I would be wearing different gear. I’d be wearing different gear.
Tre’vell Anderson: If you thought HBO Max was going to just slap on a new name tag without making a bunch of people angry along the way, you clearly don’t know Max. The newly rebranded platform faced some backlash yesterday after users discovered that Max had eliminated its standard credits for directors, screenwriters, and producers within its library, opting instead to lump all their names under one broad category. Basically, if you were to pull up the 1980 film Raging Bull director Martin Scorsese’s name would be vaguely listed, among others, under the label of Creators. Max, which is owned by Omni Studio Warner Brothers Discovery issued an apology calling the alteration a technical oversight. Perhaps this wouldn’t have been such a huge to do if the Directors Guild of America wasn’t deep in negotiations with Hollywood studios, including Warner Brothers Discovery, which is currently being picketed by the Writers Guild of America. And while the DGA hasn’t yet called for a strike authorization, they sent a strong message yesterday in a joint statement with the writers union saying, quote, “This devaluation of the individual contributions of artists is a disturbing trend and the DGA will not stand for it. We intend on taking the strongest possible actions in solidarity with the WGA to ensure every artist receives the individual credit they deserve.”
[clip of What’s Love Got to Do With It by Tina Turner] Oh what’s love got to do? [Tre’vell starts singing along with the clip] Got to do with it? What’s love but a secondhand emotion? What’s love got to do, got to do with it?
Tre’vell Anderson: I didn’t. I couldn’t hear you, Josie.
Josie Duffy Rice: Look.
Tre’vell Anderson: I couldn’t hear you singing.
Josie Duffy Rice: First of all, I just learned you have a beautiful voice. [laughter] This is all news to me. It is with heavy hearts that we must report the passing of a music icon. Tina Turner, one of the best selling American artists of all time, has died. She was 83 years old. Born Anna Mae Bullock in the small town of Nutbush, Tennessee, she first burst onto the music scene when she was just eighteen years old and rose to R&B stardom alongside her husband, Ike Turner in the sixties and seventies. But the duo’s success on the charts was marred by years of drug use and brutal domestic abuse. Tina recounted in her autobiography that the last straw came after an explosive fight with Ike in a limousine in Dallas, and she wrote that she left him bloodied and bruised with just a handful of change in her pocket. She officially filed for divorce in 1974 and set off on her own, but struggled for years to regain her footing as a solo artist. That is until her second act opened with the release of her 1984 album Private Dancer, which sold 10 million copies and won four Grammy Awards. Turner later went on to release nine more solo albums before retiring for good in 2009. In 2013, she renounced her U.S. citizenship to become a Swiss citizen and lived in Switzerland ever since with her husband and long time manager. In a statement yesterday, her publicist only said that she died of a, quote, “long illness.” But truly, legends never die. To the queen of rock and roll. We salute you.
Tre’vell Anderson: We do. The queen of rock and roll, the inventor of legs. Like I did not know legs existed until Tina Turner showed us. She paved a way.
Josie Duffy Rice: The journey that she took. It was a life very, very, very well lived.
Tre’vell Anderson: Yes. And then she was smart and she said, I’m getting the hell up out of dodge, out of this U.S..
Josie Duffy Rice: Honestly, renouncing her US citizenship and moving to Switzerland late in life is the most legendary thing that one could do.
Tre’vell Anderson: But who says you have to wait? You could do it now. Any Swiss bachelors out there looking for someone to come be your Tina Turner?
Josie Duffy Rice: Me! I call it first.
Tre’vell Anderson: Listen, well, there’s more than one Swiss bachelor. You can get one. I’ll get one. It’ll be fine.
Josie Duffy Rice: Tre’vell and I are both available. Hopefully they’re neighbors and we can live in our little Swiss chalets together. [laughter]
Tre’vell Anderson: It’ll be great. We can record What A Day from there. It’ll be amazing.
Josie Duffy Rice: If my husband is listening to this. I’m just kidding. [laughter] It’ll be amazing. We could make the time difference work.
Tre’vell Anderson: And those are the headlines.
Josie Duffy Rice: [AD BREAK]
Tre’vell Anderson: That is all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe, leave a review. Keep on burning and tell your friends to listen.
Josie Duffy Rice: And if you’re into reading and not just passive aggressive statements from Hollywood’s most powerful unions like me, What A Day is also a nightly newsletter, so check it out and subscribe at Crooked.com/subscribe. I’m Josie Duffy Rice.
Tre’vell Anderson: I’m Tre’vell Andersen.
[spoken together] And hit us up swiss suitors.
Josie Duffy Rice: We’re here.
Tre’vell Anderson: Mm hmm.
Josie Duffy Rice: Again if my husband is listening to this–
Tre’vell Anderson: Listen, I, I–
Josie Duffy Rice: We’ll talk later.
Tre’vell Anderson: [laugh] We’ll talk later. He can come with you. Why not?
Josie Duffy Rice: He can come. Like we’ll figure it out, [laughter] you know? [laughter] [music break]
Tre’vell Anderson: What A Day is a production of Crooked Media. It’s recorded and mixed by Bill Lancz. Our show’s producer is Itxy Quintanilla and Raven Yamamoto is our associate producer. We had production assistance this week from Fiona Pestana. Jocey Coffman is our head writer and our senior producer is Lita Martinez. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.