In This Episode
DeRay, Brittany, Clint and Sam discuss abortion, school lunches, ICE hacking phones, and how Black Lives Matter protests have affected Americans’ perspectives on race. House Majority Whip James Clyburn joins DeRay to talk about the 2020 presidential election, the Congressional Black Caucus and infrastructure.
- Data for Progress: Black Lives Matter Protests Reduced Whites’ Racial Prejudice and Boosted Democratic Party Vote Share
- CBS: Mom Arrested After Utah Stillbirth
- WP: Could miscarriages land women in jail? Let’s clarify these Georgia and Alabama abortion bills.
- NPR: After Backlash, Rhode Island School District Rolls Back ‘Lunch Shaming’ Policy
- Forbes: Immigration Cops Just Spent A Record $1 Million On The World’s Most Advanced iPhone Hacking Tech
DeRay: If you guys don’t know Jemele Hill, you really should. She’s a sports expert; she’s a political junkie; she’s a social media BS detector and did I mention she’s funny as hell? Now Jemele has a brand-new Spotify original podcast called “Jemele Hill is Unbothered”.
Brittany: Every Monday and Thursday, you can catch her and her two co-hosts Michael Arsenault and Cole Wiley with their insightful and entertaining hot takes on the day’s top stories in news, sports, politics, music, and other important issues like why the best parties are the ones you sneak into hint hint.
DeRay: The podcast (:30) guest list got this will also include some of the biggest names in culture and entertainment. Listen now to “Jemele Hills is Unbothered” for free only on Spotify.
DeRay: Hey, this is DeRay and welcome to Pod Save the People and this episode we have me, Brittany, Clinton as usual. Sam is traveling because it was his birthday. So he sent his news in separately, but he’s here. And then I’m joined by House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn.
James E. Clyburn: We feel that we are at a crossroads in the country and at some point, hopefully in the not too distant future, everybody will come to the center and begin to interact with each other in such a way that will allow us to move this country forward in a way that everyone will feel a part of the process.
DeRay: Tickets to our live show in Chicago and Minneapolis are available now. The mayor of Minneapolis Jacob Frye will be joining me on stage for an interview. We will be announcing our Chicago guest soon, so go get your tickets at crooked.com/events. Can’t wait.
DeRay: The advice for this week is simple; I heard it in a sermon this weekend. I went to Riverside Church in New York City. One of my dear friends Christian Peel preached and the message was: “Come as you are but leave changed”. And I love that. This notion of entering into spaces authentically who you are, being strong in that, showing up in ways that make you feel comfortable and safe, but also being open enough to be pushed and challenged and ultimately changed. To be influenced, to be vulnerable in ways that allow courage to show up so you can actually walk out of experiences stronger than you walked in.
DeRay: And I think there are a lot of places where we show up as we are and we just rest in that. We say, like, this is it, this is what I believe is, this is who I am; and that makes a lot of sense, but we have to be open to showing up as who we are, and also to being changed. Let’s go.
Sam: This is Sam Sinyangwe @SamSwey on Twitter. So my news today is about a new study that is from Soum Mazumder at Harvard University called “Black Lives Matter to Whites’ Racial Prejudice”. Now what’s fascinating about this study is the researcher looks at the impact of Black Lives Matter protests across the country since 2014 on public opinion and also on electoral outcomes.
Sam: And what he finds is that in counties that had Black Lives Matter protests, there was a significant impact on levels of racial resentment among white’s in those counties, compared to whites that were in counties that did not have protests. In particular that for younger white people in those counties, they had significantly lower levels of racial resentment following the protests, but for white’s over the age of 50, there was actually an increase in racial resentment following the protests. But that overall, because the impact was so great for younger folks, the overall impact was a reduction in racial resentment as a result of the protests.
Sam: And then what’s also interesting about this study – again, he’s able to do this because there is this incredible database of protests that have happened across the country, Black Lives Matter protest in particular since 2014, over 2600 protest have happened, have been recorded in that database – and by matching up, where those protests occurred with changes in public opinion, he’s actually able to establish this impact. And what he finds is that not only did racial resentment reduce among white’s in counties with protest, but that also led to a change at the ballot box. An estimated four to six percent increase in the Democratic vote share occurred, this study finds, as a result of the protests.
Sam: So this is fascinating. I builds on a growing body of research evidence showing the impact of Black Lives Matter protests across the country on everything from public opinion to policy change to now, with what this study shows, electoral outcomes changing.
Sam: And just to talk about some of the other evidence that’s out there, survey research has found that there’s been a significant increase in the proportion of white people in this country who say that the country needs to continue making changes in order to secure equal rights between black and white people. An estimated 45 million more Americans, white Americans in particular today, believe that the country needs to continue making changes, needs to take further action to secure racial justice, than believed that before the protests began which is incredible. And now what we’re seeing that not only our hearts and minds changing, but also that’s leading to actions in terms of elections.
Sam: So, you know, this is great news. It’s all the more evidence to continue supporting and sustaining movement work and I’m looking forward to seeing further research come out. Again, this is studying a time period that is very recent, that is still ongoing. And so, I’m looking forward to seeing further research that comes out down the road finding even further potential impacts of the movement.
Brittany: Hey y’all. It’s the news. This is Brittany Packnett @MsPackyetti on all social media.
Clint: And this is Clint Smith @ClintSmithIII.
DeRay. Ay ay ay. And this is Dre @deray on Twitter. It’s Sam’s birthday everybody whoop whoop whoop!
All: Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday to you.
Clint: They you are, coming in off-key.
Brittany: Oh God, you’re off key and offbeat. I need you to get it together.
DeRay: We love you, Sam. You’re amazing.
Brittany: So you all, it is my very favorite season. And I’m not talking about Mother’s Day, although we love the mothers. I’m not talking about Christmas, Thanksgiving, New Year’s although those are fun times. I’m talking about graduation season. This is my favorite time of year because there’s so much opportunity. There’s so much promise. There’s so much excitement. There’s so much anticipation just in everything and everybody.
Brittany: When I see people walking down the street with their robes open after the ceremony and they’re about to go eat with their fam, I’m the person who’s like yelling at the side of the car, “Congratulations! OMG!” I have three graduations to go to for four different people this season. and I’ve had even more people who have graduated this season that I haven’t been about see, but it’s just such an exciting time.
Clint: Shout out to the kindergarten graduations. They’re adorable.
DeRay: The step up ceremony you mean? We call it the Step Up Ceremony.
Brittany: You’re going to be going to one of those. That’s right. The Step Up. The Next Phase.
DeRay: I do love the graduations where they don’t even pretend to tell you to not clap. They don’t even pretend to be like: “Hold your applause.” It’s like, just do it.
Brittany: Our family is the family that even if you tell us not to clap, we gonna clap, cheer, stomp, yell, scream, sing, all of it. We’re going to make it very very difficult for the next name to be called. We are that family; you can hate us if you want to, but that that is my favorite thing about graduation season. What is you all’s favorite memory from this time.
Clint: I’m from New Orleans and Hurricane Katrina was my senior year of high school. And so my entire sort of senior year was thrown on its head and didn’t go, obviously, in the way that I anticipated it going. But I ended up at a school in Houston, Texas where I finished the school year. And it’s a place that really just like held me down, held my family down. And the graduation ceremony was deeply emotional. My home had been destroyed. The city I lived my entire life was only a shell of itself. I was living with my aunt and uncle in a different city, in a different place, and had to make new friends. And I just I felt, I felt like proud of myself. I was like man this year was crazy and we made it through
Clint: And then you know as a teacher, I can’t even pick one. There’s no better feeling than watching your students graduate. I’ll taught 10th and 12th grade high school students and like watching those young people walk across the stage, like knowing the odds against them, knowing the history that tells them that they shouldn’t have been able to walk across that stage, knowing what their families have given up in order to make this moment happen.
Clint: I love graduation season because it’s one person walking across the stage, but that took so many people to get that person across the stage in the first place. And you see the grandmas and the Mamas and the Dads and the uncles and the people who are like your play aunties and your play uncles or the nice mailman who like hooked you up with, you know, helping you with your math homework or the person at the bodega down the street who like gave you the free juice when you needed to stay up.
Clint: I mean, just thinking about the way that community comes together to lift up folks so that they can be successful in a world that, you know, specifically for black folks and I imagine it’s similar in other communities that has made it historically, politically, and socially difficult to achieve upward mobility: I just I think it’s amazing.
DeRay I was in sixth grade teacher. The only envy that I have for high school teachers is that you get to see them graduate high school, Clint. I don’t know how, shout out to every high school teacher in America because I don’t get it.
But for sixth grade, I understood well. And it was so beautiful to go back and see them as eighth graders and graduate and I was like, “Oh my goodness”. But it was, it still wild to see them as adults now, but to think about how hard everybody worked to get through those classes and to make sure everybody learned, it was really beautiful.
DeRay: What I love the most is not only the pride on people’s faces, just like the immense “Oh my God, I did it.” but I love some good advice. Like, I love a good speech at a graduation. It’s not a lot of them out there. It’s a lot of corny speeches. It’s a lot of cliches. But, when you get a-going, it’s good. You’re like, “Go him preaching at this little graduation.”
DeRay: What is happening now too, is that they’re like younger and younger people giving them. It’s like people in our generation are starting to be the commencement speakers and I hear something and I’m like, “That was a good one. I like that.”
DeRay: It’s been beautiful to see, so I looked at a compilation of commencement speeches the other day in preparation for some that I’m going to give. And I was like, “That was really good advice.” And like, you know, the advice is always in a few buckets. It’s like: take charge; the world is yours; everybody worked hard for you to get here…
Brittant: “A commencement is not an end.”
DeRay: I love it and I like,I love how cheesy it is. You know, I will say that it’s really hard to be a great commencement speaker in a community that was not yours. And those are the ones that when people pull it off, it’s like, that was really well done. So I’m excited for that for this season.
Brittany: Shout out to everyone who is graduating, is about to graduate, is looking forward to a graduation, graduated at any point in your life. You should be proud of yourself. Pat yourself on the back. Brush the dirt off your shoulders. And do you boo.
Clint: And send some of that graduation energy my way. I’m trying to be done with this PhD. It’s coming. It’s coming soon 2020 see me. We’ll be out here.
Clint: All right. So for my news, it was announced last week that public school students in Warwick, Rhode Island who had unpaid lunch balances would no longer receive hot food for their lunches. Instead those students were set to receive “sunflower butter and jelly sandwiches” until their debts have been paid. After a few days of national backlash, the district scrapped the plan because they were facing such heated condemnation from the entire country, rightfully so.
Clint: And what the whole thing did is it kind of reignited the conversation around “lunch shaming” which is this idea that children, who have obviously no control over their financial circumstances, are singled out and, in some cases, punished for their families not being able to afford school lunches.
Clint: And this is not something that only impacts Warrick. Some schools routinely have thrown away lunches when students can’t afford to pay them. Some prohibit access to hot food like Warwick did. Some stamp the hands of children whose parents can’t pay. Some make the students wear wristbands. Others make children work to pay off their guardians debt in their post school time. Some keep students from participating in field trips, school dances, and some cases, they even prevent students from attending their graduation ceremony.
Clint: I’m heartened by the stories of cafeteria workers who reject this idea on moral grounds, as many of us do. But a lot of them have also paid for it with their jobs. According to the Washington Post in 2015, a Colorado cafeteria worker said that she had been fired for giving free food to hungry elementary school students, one of whom had broken down in tears. And similarly in 2016, a lunch worker in Pennsylvania quit in protest after she was forced to refuse a hot meal to a student because they couldn’t pay for it.
Clint: And for some context the USDA provides free and reduced lunch prices for approximately 30 million students. The USDA mandates that school districts must identify and get qualifying families to apply for free and reduced paid lunches. Families that earn 130% above the poverty line, which is $32,600 annually for a family of four, or less can get free lunch. And families making between 130% and 185% above the federal poverty line can be charged no more than 40% (of the lunch fee).
Clint: But there is a concern that there are millions of children whose families make slightly above this amount and who thus don’t qualify for free or reduced lunch, but they still are largely in the same sort of economic circumstances. And there’s a feeling that a lot of the debt that’s being accrued is coming from this demographic.
Clint: There’s also a concern that millions of children who would qualify aren’t being served because their parents or guardians haven’t filled out the necessary paperwork and forms in order to get the service. And this is for me a sort of reminder of how bureaucracy can reify inequality and how putting the onus on parents and guardians to fill out this form that is necessary to get their child the lunch that they need when they might have circumstances they’re dealing with beyond their control, is an ineffective way to do this.
Clint: And so, you know many of us were outraged by this. I was deeply outraged and I think specifically thinking about these young people and these kids walking around being publicly shamed amongst their peers for their families not being able to pay for a hot lunch is reflective of the way that poverty sort of compounds itself, right. And that people use the sort of maxim like it is expensive to be poor.
Clint: And that poverty is something that becomes increasingly difficult the more entrenched you become, because of the bureaucracy, because of the sort of lack of opportunity for upward mobility. And I just wanted to bring this up because I was outraged by it and I think it brings up something that’s happening in school districts far beyond just Rhode Island. And it’s concerning.
Brittany: It should absolutely drive our outrage. I say it often: we judge a society by how well it treats its elderly and its children. And this is yet another example that if that is the measure, our society is not healthy at all.
Brittany: I remember being a teacher and one of the rewards that I used to give students for a point system that we had was that if you chose to you could come and eat lunch with me. And I would have students, they would go down and they would get their lunch and they’d come back. And I remember being extremely frustrated because parents were digging into their pockets to pay money that they worked very very hard for, for lunches that were not delicious or nutritious for the most part. And so the lunches that people pay for are already bad, then to treat people as though they are pariahs for having difficulty paying for what frankly we should be able to provide young people is heinous.
Brittany: I’m glad to see that the Chobani CEO that actually stepped up to take care of the school district bill with about a $47,000 donation also said that this is a problem around the country that needs to be eliminated. Charity is very different than solidarity. Charity is interested in solving one problem one time. Solidarity and systems work is interested in eliminating the problem altogether so that the problem doesn’t exist for generations to come.
Brittany: And I think that it’s important that we recognize just like the CEO did that a one-time cash infusion helps out students this year and this one school district. We’ve got a bigger problem on our hands and we need to make sure that not only are school lunches nutritious and actually feeding our young people in such a way that they can go and show up as their best selves in the classroom, but we need to make sure that the kind of nutrition that we provide to one child can actually be provided to them all.
DeRay: So I just wanna talk about a school in Baltimore as an example of the way food policy works. So there’s a school in Baltimore called John Brewer Elementary Middle. It’s a school that I worked with when I was a Human Capital Chief in the school system.
DeRay: There’s an important article that was written in the Baltimore Sun called “Baltimore School with Large Immigrant Population Losses Vital Funding Source”. And what it explains is that for some districts where the majority of the kids qualify for free and reduced lunch, there’s actually a federal program that will make all the food free which is a good thing. It is a net win.
DeRay: So no longer do kids have to turn in the forms, no longer do we have to verify the data, anything. The whole district – every kid in Baltimore City, Baltimore City Public Schools – participates in the free food program from the federal government. It’s important every kid can have access to food.
DeRay: The unintended consequence of the way the policy worked out in Maryland is that a lot of people don’t know that the free and reduced lunch marker is actually the proxy for poverty in a lot of places. So it is what qualifies schools for Title I funding or a lot of other federal programs that are only for kids in poverty.
DeRay: So, when you no longer have the free and reduced lunch tag because you’re no longer turning in the forms to prove that you need free reduced lunch because every kid can get food like it is in Baltimore, then they have to come up with a new method. And in Maryland, they went to a method called direct certification and the way direct certification works is that it essentially says: now we consider you poor if you qualify for another government program. That is the majority of the way direct certification works.
DeRay: Whereas free and reduced lunch is different. You might not be in another program like food stamps for instance, but you are poor. And when you turn in the form for free or reduced lunch, it serves as an income validator. So what you find in schools like John Brewer, it went from being a school where about 90% of the students were identified as poor to now being a school where only 32% of the students identified as poor.
DeRay: And from the principal’s perspective and from the school district’s, it’s like, “Oh we know that they are still poor but just because they aren’t in these programs or don’t qualify for other programs, doesn’t mean that they suddenly got an infusion of cash?”
DeRay: And I want to bring this up because we talk about one part of the food equation in schools, which is like kids shouldn’t be fined their parents shouldn’t be fined (18:19). Like we should have access to food. There’s enough food to go around. The other part is like how policy actually works when people do the right thing like have free food for everybody and still need the identifier of like what is poverty.
DeRay: So hopefully in Maryland, they’ll figure it out. There other places like New York state that still collects what is essentially like the free and reduced lunch information as another way to verify income, so they don’t have to just rely on the data from if you qualified in a federal program, and I thought that was really interesting.
DeRay: Hey you’re listening to Pod Save the People. Stay tuned, there’s more to come.
DeRay: Pod Save the People is brought to you by Oatley, the vegan plant-based oat milk originally from Sweden. It’s now making their oat milk on this side of the Atlantic.
Brittany: So listen y’all about 30 years ago in a small town in Sweden, go there with me if you will, a scientist invented… what do you think? I don’t know. Oat milk, obviously. And everyone thought he was completely wild. But remember back then vegans were on the fringes of society and now everybody and their mom is a vegan and trying to force me to be a vegan too. Unlike today obviously vegans are everywhere. So, you know, maybe he was ahead of his time.
DeRay: So Brittany, are you suggesting that eating a plant-based diet is starting to feel mainstream?
Brittany: Uh duh. Listen, Beyonce said everybody needs to go plant-based before she got ready for Homecoming and we all know the kind of history she made with that. So, maybe she’s onto something, maybe the folks that make Oatly you’re onto something. Because, apparently more and more people in the US and around the world are starting to understand the benefits of eating and drinking plants, so their bodies feel good and so the planet can better cope with the impact that we as humans place on. Basically, everyone’s doing it DeRay, so we need to get on board.
DeRay: Brittany, I feel like you’re trying to tell me something. I’m listening. I’m listening. I’m ready. Like keep going, what you say.
Brittany: Listen, I’m trying to peer pressure you for a good reason. I’m actually trying to get to a deep question because 30 years ago people thought oat milk was a completely ridiculous idea. And here we are talking about Oatly, but imagine how much different people’s beliefs about food are going to be 30 years from now.
Brittany: And since this is an ad for Oatly after all, we should mention that when easy way to go more plant-based is just to switch from cows milk to oat milk. That’s not even a really big change, you can definitely do it. Plus the oat milk tastes really good on your cereal and in your coffee.
DeRay: You’re right, I think about all the health foods that didn’t exist 20 years ago or I didn’t know exist. I’m sure they probably existed in some capacity, but I didn’t see any of those things at my store and they certainly weren’t online. But now, we’re in a world where there’s oat milk. Oatly baby. Oatly for all. And to find out more than you’d ever want to know about oat milk, go to Oatly.com or look for Oatle on Instagram @oatly.
Brittany: We talked about abortion frequently on this podcast. I am really grateful to be able to have men and brothers in my life with whom I can have this conversation in a way that is earnest and honest and that cares deeply and greatly for the additional burden that women have just trying to have control over our own bodies.
Brittany: The reason why this is an important topic to discuss this week is because there have been two bills at the state level in the news that have been confusing. You may have heard about the recent abortion bills in Georgia and Alabama and might be wondering what’s true. You heard something on social media; you saw something different on the news; you saw something different than that in the newspaper. Well, this is an opportunity not only for us to talk about what’s true, but we have to pay attention to in the long game.
Brittany: So first things first, in Georgia, the bill that was passed is called a heartbeat bill. A heartbeat bill essentially means that once a heartbeat is detected in a woman’s uterus that an abortion is illegal to perform thereafter. In Georgia they set that time at about six weeks. Six weeks is usually just a couple of weeks after a missed period. Most women do not know that they are even pregnant at six weeks. And that is why this particular law has created and caused such a righteous and necessary uproar because how can a woman actually be fully equipped to make the decisions that she needs to make for her own body and for her own future in just a short amount of time?
Brittany: The other law that has been on people’s lips is the law in Alabama which doesn’t even give that six weeks. It essentially states that once a fetus is in utero that an abortion thereafter is illegal to perform. These things are absolutely scary. They have understandably and justifiably caused a lot of panic, a lot of rage, a lot of deep frustration, worry, and anxiety among women not just in Georgia, but all across the country for what this trend actually means.
Brittany: The truth of the matter is that we should be worried, but here’s what we also need to know. These laws have yet to go into effect. If the Georgia law goes into effect, for example, as it currently stands that won’t actually happen until 2020. There is time for reproductive rights organizations to take these laws to court and in places like North Dakota and Kentucky we have seen laws like this successfully fought back and blocked by courts when people pursue those. So keep a close eye on those court cases.
Brittany: Here’s what we also know: a lot of the conversation has been about whether or not a woman will be able to be punished if she has an abortion in either of these states. The truth is kind of complicated. In Alabama, the bill explicitly states that a woman cannot be held civilly or criminally liable for that abortion. In Georgia, it’s a bit more complicated because if a woman miscarries then she actually can be pulled into an investigation as to whether or not someone performed an illegal abortion on her to caused the miscarriage.
Brittany: We also see that in places like Utah, a woman is currently under investigation for having two babies, but one that was born stillborn after she was warned that that was a possible outcome if she did not have a C-section. We have to remember folks that a C-section is a very very serious and major surgery that causes weeks of recovery, and that’s without any complications. And complications can absolutely happen. Reportedly this woman was told that she was going to be cut open very violently by a doctor and that’s why she opted not to have this surgery.
Brittany: So even with what these bills in Georgia and Alabama state in their language, women still have a reasonable worry given what is happening in so many other places like Utah and others, when it comes to women actually having full control over their bodies. But here is the real point and this is why we always have to pay attention to the long game: what this ultimately is, in combination with bills and laws that are being passed in states left and right, is an end run on Roe vs Wade. If states can establish the personhood of a fetus, then they can get around Roe vs Wade as the law of the land.
Brittany: So the lawsuits that are coming to block these bills are extremely important. We also have to remember as everyday people that one in four adult American women will have an abortion in her lifetime and when abortion becomes illegal and it is banned or it exists in name only, abortions do not decrease nor does the need for abortions decrease.
Brittany: What ultimately happens is that abortion still happens and they become deadly for the women who have to have them. Women get abortions for a whole host of reasons, but the ultimate point is that we should be able to have control over our bodies. We should be able to make choices that help us end generational poverty. We should be able to make choices that secure our health and our safety and our futures. We should be able to make choices that help us stay secure and all of the ways that we need to that the government doesn’t seem to be caring much about.
Clint: What’s also clear in this is that the Republicans advocating for these bills haven’t taken them to their sort of logical endpoint -and if they have they’re hypocrites and we already know they were irresponsible and they’re hypocrites – but for folks to understand and I think Andrew Fleischmann who’s an appellate attorney in Georgia pointed this out, according to this bill if it were to go into effect, the moment it takes effect on January 1st, 2020, the state will be illegally holding thousands of citizens in jail without bond. That’s because under HB 481, incarcerated people who are pregnant, their fetuses have independent rights, so they have the right to due process. Can a juvenile attorney represent an incarcerated persons fetus and demand its released?
Clint: I mean the list goes on and on there was a great tweet that sort of encapsulated the moral absurdity of this bill by Carlos Chapman and it says: “If a fetus is a person at six weeks pregnant is that when child support starts? Is that also when you can’t deport the mother because she’s carrying a US citizen? Can I ensure a six-week fetus and collect if I miscarry? Just figuring if we’re going here, we should go all-in.”
Clint: Right and so clearly these are things that either the folks who brought this bill to the floor having considered or that they are ignoring and the likely thing is they don’t care, right? Like this is a bill that is intentionally set up to move through the court to ultimately get to find a bill that’s going to get to the Supreme Court, so that they can either outrightly overturn Roe vs Wade or so that they can sort of tinker with it and sort of chip it away piece by piece until many states make it virtually impossible for for women to have an abortion that is safe and that is not something that’s going to put their lives in danger.
Clint: And so this is an incredibly dangerous time and an incredibly dangerous thing. This is the project that many folks have been working on the right for decades and decades. And if we are not careful and if we are not vigilant and if we are not organized, they might be successful and I think that this is something that we have to take incredibly seriously and this is something that men have to take seriously and talked about and be just as loud as women are on this issue because as much as it is a women’s issue, which it is 100%, It’s also a human issue.And it’s an issue that affects every single one of us.
DeRay: Just three things. One is that there are a lot of issues all across the country at the policy level that we should be focusing on. So, Louisiana is halfway toward passing a law that is similar to ones passed in Mississippi and Georgia that will ban abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected which is so early that a lot of women don’t even know that they’re pregnant. We have talked about Alabama being on the cusp of approving even more restricted bill.
DeRay: The second is that Mississippi for instance is one of the places that mandates a 24-hour waiting period before an in person consultation. And the reason that that significant is that they’re not a lot of abortion clinics in Mississippi, so it often requires two days of travel. So they go get a consultation, then they have to come back later. The 24-hour waiting period was designed to lower the number of people who actually come back the second time. And it’s those sort of things that, like, people don’t understand is being Insidious because it seems like you can sell a 24-hour waiting period as sort of simple like, “oh I just want them to think about it,” not that the government should be able to force people to think about this at all because women should have the right to do with their bodies what they want to do their bodies.
DeRay: But the third that I didn’t even understand until I was looking into this is why the heartbeat ban in Georgia is even more pernicious than I originally thought is that Georgia has 17 abortion clinics more than the combined total in the other four southern states that have passed or are considering bans
DeRAY: So there are a lot of women who actually travel to Georgia to get an abortion because they literally they’re not able to do it in any of the bordering states or it’s not easy for them to do or the access doesn’t look the same. And something like this in Georgia would actually have a devastating consequence on abortion access in the region.
DeRay: So not just in Georgia, but in the entire region and it’s a reminder that this issue is everybody’s issue that we believe in a woman’s right to choose. And you know, there was an official in Georgia that publicly said, you know, like we’re excited to appeal this to the Supreme Court because Trump is stacked the courts and we hope that this will be a victory in the court system. But remember if Stacey Abrams was governor, we wouldn’t have this problem. And if there wasn’t voter tampering we wouldn’t have this problem.
DeRay: That part of this is like fighting the whole fight all the way through so like when people say voting isn’t important, it’s like this is actually one of the reasons why it is and again people voted in Georgia -so this is not to y’all because you voted and they stole your votes – but it is a reminder that these are the downstream effects sometimes when we don’t understand the power we have or when people try to take that power from us at the booth.
DeRay: And my news this week is about ICE. So ICE, as you know detains about 50,000 people a day, more than ICE ever detained on a daily basis ever and also the single biggest police department in the country is actually border patrol, if you did not know. This is about ICE buying tech from a company called Grayshift. They recently entered into a $820,000 contract.
DeRay: The combined contracts they have a Grayshift is about over a million dollars, 1.2 million. Atlanta based company and why does Grayshift matter? Because they make a product called Gray Key and it is described as the world’s best iPhone hacking tech for police and intelligence agents, allowing them to break passcodes and retrieve information from inside Apple devices.
DeRay: You might remember there was, like, a big issue in California where the San Bernardino shooter they were trying to break into his phone and Apple released a statement and there’s a bit back and forth of the Apple. But this is the product, and what is so scary is that Homeland Security has essentially said for purposes of National Security, they can go above and beyond we understand the law to be, that they can actually search the property of anybody around the border, they can search their phones, they can do anything. And the normal constitutional protections around search and seizure don’t apply. So obviously people from the ACLU from the from the left have been saying like no these constitutional protections do apply and what ICE saying is that they actually don’t apply at the border.
DeRay: So to be interesting to see how that’s litigated through the courts. There are other departments in Texas Department of Public Safety has a contract with the Grayshift; LAPD has a contract with the Grayshift; San Mateo County… but I wanted to bring this here because A. I hope that Apple releases a patch that makes this product null and void after these people spent the money.
DeRay: Second, is that you think about like how the police are trying to skirt around the protections of private citizens to hack into your phone and what that means and like I didn’t even know this until I was preparing for the news and being like, “Wow, like what are all the other cities?” You know, because Grayshift doesn’t make the cities they work in public. Like, people are finding out the cities one by one, so I want to know if there’s a contract with Baltimore, any other cities that I care about deeply and I’ve lived in.
DeRay: And the third is that we have to be vigilant to make sure the technology doesn’t actually become one of the things that allows the police to actually put us in even more of a police state.
Brittany: I think it was so particularly scary about this is at the very end of the Forbes article that discusses this, they talk about an ACLU warning that this gives both ICE and CBP the power to search devices to investigate nearly any offense including things like the breaches of consumer protection laws.
Brittany: So what this leads me to believe is that it’s going to be even easier for these two agencies to create a pretense to be able to search these devices and that that pretense doesn’t actually have to be well-developed. It doesn’t have to be applicable. It doesn’t even probably have to be believable.
Brittany: It just has to be enough to be able to gain access to devices of people at and around the border. This is our tax dollars at work in a way that I would hope we do not want it to be. And this is about vigilance with these particular agencies and the administration that oversees them. And it’s about vigilance with a company like Apple
Brittany: To your point DeRay, I’m hoping that they actually recognize that they have an opportunity here to stand by their consumers, to stand by the people, and actually work out a way for this not to at all be accessible.
Clint: And I’m just sad – obviously this is incredibly concerning – but it’s important for folks to remember that federal agencies and intelligence agencies already have incredible access to you and your information and your whereabouts, just given the fact that you own a cell phone in the first place.
Clint: Like we forget that all of the location trackers on our phones that we use for certain applications can tell people when we’re going to the doctor. They tell them what restaurants we go to, what time we go to the gym, what time we arrive at work. You can literally sort of map out what a person’s life looks like over the course of a day, over the course of a week, over the course of month.
Clint: And if we are not careful, if we’re not fully cognizant of the ways that certain entities can use that information to really get a sense of our entire lives, right? If you can see where someone is going every single minute of every single day, you can track that and aggregate that data over the course of weeks and months and years. You can get a pretty robust picture of who that person is and what their life is, without ever having to hack into their phone.
Clint: And so I think, you know, it’s one of those things for us to be mindful of what location services you have on, be mindful of… it can feel overwhelming it can feel sort of big brother-ish, but I think the most important thing is to not allow sort of ignorance and naivete to sort of just sit and fester there. I think it’s important to, like, know what your phone is capable of, know what it can do, know what you can do, and what steps you can take to protect yourself.
Clint: And it’s even one of those things where like some people like “Oh well like I don’t do anything wrong so it doesn’t matter.” The sort of larger point is there are false pretenses under which someone can make a judgment or an assessment of your participation in anything based on what they think you might be doing based on the places you can go. So it actually doesn’t matter if you are doing something illegal or not doing something illegal. Folks have insight into the parts of your life that only the people you decide to share that with should have insight into. So just be vigilant and make sure you’re educating yourself on what cell phones and other wireless electronic devices can tell people about who you are and what you do.
DeRay: That’s the news.
DeRay: Hey you’re listening to Pod Save the People. Don’t go anywhere there’s more to come.
DeRay: From C-13 Originals, The team behind the number one podcast Root of Evil, there’s a new series called Gangster Capitalism that takes an unflinching look at white collar corruption. Mmm-hmm about time y’all. Season one examines a brazen College admission scandal – we’ve been talking about it – also known as Operation Varsity Blues exposing Hollywood celebrities, CEOs, and college admissions scam artists in schemes involving bribery, money laundering, and fraud.
Brittany: Award-winning documentarian Andrew Jenks is covering the scandal as it unfolds. with each episode, he takes us deeper inside the investigation and into the inner workings of these tricks among the rich trying to cheat the academic system. He tries to answer the questions: “How did this all happen?” and, “Where do we go from here?”
DeRay: Episode 1 of Gangster Capitalism is available now on apple podcast or wherever you listen to podcasts.
DeRay: And now my interview with House Majority Whip James Clyburn the third-ranking Democrat in the United States House of Representatives who represents the 6th District of South Carolina.
DeRay: Congressman Clyburn (37:08) thanks so much for joining us today on Party of the people.
James Clyburn: Well, thank you very much for having me .
DeRay: Now, I’ll just start with the question that’s on everybody’s mind is: What is it like being in Congress at this moment with this President? It feels like the sense is not much can sort of move. But is that true or is that just what we think on the outside?
James Clyburn: Well, it’s a bit surreal, there’s no question about that. We’re all a bit used to having some cooperation from the White House, irrespective of who may be occupying the office. I’ve had the great pleasure of serving under the presidency of Bill Clinton and George W Bush and Barack Obama. And of course, I really had a pretty good relationship with all of those officers.
James Clyburn: This one, however, is a bit different. For some reason we seem not to be able to have a real clear definition of where authority of the executive ends and (where) the Congress the legislative (authority) begins. And of course there also seemed to be indication that this executive finds solace in the Judiciary not as an independent arbiter, but as a tool of his own misgivings.
James Clyburn: And so we feel that we are at a crossroads in the country and at some point, hopefully in the not too distant future, everybody will come to the center and begin to interact with each other in such a way that will allow us to move this country forward in a way that everyone will feel a part of the process. That’s not the way things are at the moment.
DeRay: You know, I know that you attended a meeting with Trump and other leading Democratic lawmakers about infrastructure. So I would love to know how that meeting went. Was Administration prepared to actually talk about those issues?
DeRay: But also there are a lot of people who I know saw a report out of the meeting and sort of said, “What does it even mean to try and negotiate or talk to a person like President Trump who time and time again, he hasn’t followed his word?” Is it even worth going to meetings like that when, like, you can’t trust what the person is saying? So would love to know both like how the meeting went and then like are they even worth it at this point?
James Clyburn: Well, I think the meeting went in a very positive way. I was a bit pleased with the way the meeting went. In fact those of us who had discussions about this whole issue of infrastructure have felt for some time – even since the campaign last year or year before now, irrespective of how the election were to come out – that there was one thing that everybody agreed on and that is: our infrastructure is crumbling. Water is not safe to drink in too many places, that we need sanitary sewage systems. We need to clean up our air. (We) need to have broadband deployment, especially in rural communities where they aren’t today.
James Clyburn: We thought that was something all of us can agree on. We went into the meeting. We talked about having a 1.5 trillion dollar program, just so that we could match what that big tax cut was all about. That was a 1.5 trillion dollar tax cut. So we just thought that that would be the way to go. It was a president who threw out this number of 2 trillion dollars.
James Clyburn: And of course, I was a bit taken aback by that and was even more so when I read after the meeting that Democrats put the two trillion dollar figure on the table. We didn’t and I don’t know who put that out of the meeting. I know Democrats did not put that out of the meeting. So then you got to wonder whether or not this meeting was on the up-and-up or whether or not there was something going on in this meeting that was untoward. (41:10)
James Clyburn: So I immediately felt after reading these reports that maybe this meeting was not really on the up-and-up. So we will have to wait and see.
DeRay: In the meeting was a part of the infrastructure the wall, or did he not bring the wall up as a part of the idea of infrastructure?
James Clyburn: Well, that’s what made me is so pleased: he never brought the wall up. He did come out at one point talking about an infrastructure program that will allow the federal government to wrap all this billions of dollars into Block Grants (42:20) and send it down to the States and have them to administer program. I immediately spoke up.
James Clyburn: And I said, sort of incredulously, that, “Mr. President, that might be the most efficient way to do it. But that is the least effective way to do it.” And I went on to make my point as to how I felt this program would be administered once it got down to the States. I did not trust many states to do right by people and communities of need.
James Clyburn: We have seen time and time again when the federal government sends these programs down to the state’s block ranch or used to provide big tax breaks to supporters particular political parties rather than invest in the infrastructure in these communities. I made it very clear – and I do often- that I’m not a big fan of the so-called “New Deal”.
James Clyburn: I’ve studied history enough and I still reflect on it every time I go into rural parts of my congressional district and other congressional districts across the country. When you look at the CCC Civilian Conservation Corps, those jobs WPA (Work Progress Administration), those jobs when they came South had a little tag hung on them called “White Only”.
James Clyburn: We don’t want to see that. We want to see these communities of need having the same kind of investments made in them that’s made in other communities. And y’all aren’t going to do that with Block grants. We need to have targeted resources when they leave Washington D.C. going down to states and out to states that will invest this money in communities of need.
James Clyburn: So I spoke up. The president said he understood what I meant. I told him in my presentation about an experience I had with a farmer that came up to see me along with another big group of farmers. He was interested in disaster relief because they are not credit worthy this year because they were not able to pay back the loans that they made last year to plant crops because they got destroyed in the fields.
James Clyburn: This farmer said to me that although he came to see me about his cotton farm, he was much more interested in the families in this community that lowered their children up into automobiles and take them down to the parking lot at the local library and they sit out in the cars to do their homework because they are not connected to the internet.
James Clyburn: So I said to the president: we cannot have an infrastructure program that talks about roads and bridges and ports and not talk about broadband deployment, so that our children can get a proper education and that healthcare can be effectively delivered to people in rural areas.
James Clyburn: And so the president said he understood and so that’s why I left the meeting so pleased. And then all of a sudden I started hearing all of this other stuff. I don’t know what to think at this moment.
DeRay: I’d love to know what can the federal government do about increasing access to the internet in low-income communities and communities of color?
James Clyburn: What we have to do is not allow the perfect to become the enemy of the good. Now, I know that if you look at broadband and look at how to deliver broadband, we looked at fiber optic as being may be the perfect way to do it. The fact of the matter is that it’s not cost effective in a lot of rural communities – a lot of communities that I represent. But there are other good ways to do it.
James Clyburn: We are not going to be able to do it with cable and optical fiber because it’s not does not going to be cost effective. So we can use the satellite and other wireless methods to have some good internet in rural communities, though it may not be perfect. You may lose it when the winds blow too hard or the storms come, but that’s much better than having zero.
James Clyburn: Right now, we got all this argument about of going to 5G. Well, I’m not interested in 5G when I got so many of my constituents with no G. We got to look for a way to find somewhere between zero and five to serve these communities and that’s what I’m arguing for each and every day.
DeRay: And what’s going on with the CBC? So I know that you’re an assistant Democratic leader of the Congressional Black Caucus. What are the priorities of the caucus right now? Are there priorities that aren’t getting attention that we should be paying attention to, but it hasn’t broken in the national news cycle? What’s up?
James Clyburn: Well, we’re doing a lot in the CBC. We’ve been talking about infrastructure investments that ensures that these persistent poverty communities – many of which we in the CBC represent not just in rural communities and that’s why I worked with Senator Booker – trying to redefine persistent poverty counties in such a way that we can make counties communities and go with census tracts. So we have introduced legislation that will allow us to make these investments in census tracts. That is what the CBC is working on when it comes to infrastructure.
James Clyburn: When it comes to education, the CBC is all in on expanding the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, on making (47:00) college education and post-secondary education what I like to call “debt free”. We are not be having these arguments on whether you gon have free college for free that the other. If you make it debt free, young people don’t mind making the investment of time and resources in getting a post-secondary education.
James Clyburn: We in the CBC also recognize that every child may not be interested in a liberal arts education. I tell people all the time: we cannot function in our society if we don’t have electricity and so we need to have good electricians. We aren’t going to function in our society if we don’t have working toilets. So we need good plumbers. And you don’t need to have a liberal arts education to become a great plumber and a great electrician.
James Clyburn: We can light the world with allowing people to get the kind of education that will help them fulfill their dreams and their aspirations. So that’s the kind of stuff we’re working on in the CBC. Yet every time you turn on our TVs or radios, we hear people talking about free college education. That’s not what we’re concerned with. We are concerned with providing the mechanisms for our young people to fulfill their dreams and their aspirations, even if they want to be electricians or plumbers or landscapers or bricklayers or carpenters.
James Clyburn: All of these things help us to make up society and we cannot get people to focus on the kinds of threats that are very important to our constituents. And that’s just one example.
DeRay: Do you think there’s a time when the idea free college will be something that you do support more publicly, like it even free community college for instance? And we know that like you said community colleges are amazing places where people learn trades and a host of other things? Or do you not think free college is just a policy strategy to go down.
James Clyburn: Well, it’s in what you call “free”. It’s got to be paid for in some kind of way. I say, they’re ought to be debt-free because there’s no way in the world teachers are going to work for free. It’s not going to happen.
James Clyburn: So some kind of way, we got to figure out a way to pay for it. And so that is just what we ought to start discussing. How do we make education and other vocational pursuits debt-free?
DeRay: I know that CBC’s working on a report about the high levels of suicide among black children. How did that come to your radar? What have you learned in that process? And what do you hope that the report will do?
James Clyburn: You know when we think about our society and what is going on in the country today, when we think about what is emanating from the Oval Office, when we listen to the intolerance for some people and the tolerance for others, how do we tolerate hate? And that’s what white supremacy is all about.
James Clyburn: Hate is unhealthy and it ought to be unwelcome. When we hear expressions welcoming hate, young people see and hear these things and they internalize them. And that means that young people growing up in homes where hate is will bring that hate to school and then we will see certain things happening.
James Clyburn: So when young people, teenagers, pre-teen ages are experiencing things, they are hearing things and being bullied in the classroom and not being able to find solace in their elected officials, they bring some of this to their everyday existence. And everybody will not be able to adjust properly.
DeRay: You are publicly supporting anybody yet in 2020 are you?
James Clyburn: Not yet. I have my sentiments about this. I tell people all the time, I argued strenuously years ago for South Carolina to be in the so-called pre-primary window. The reason I wanted South Carolina to be in that window is because our state is a relatively small state. It’s a state that allows for four distinct cultures to co-exist. It has a pretty reasonable media market and it has a high participation of non-white voters.
James Clyburn: I felt that we were losing the elections because we allowed states like Iowa and New Hampshire to define our candidates for us with them not ever participating in the give-and-take that takes place in rural communities. Of course ours has its share rural communities, but in non-white communities in South Carolina offers that. I was told when I was making the argument, one of the reasons there was some reluctance about designating South Carolina is because they thought that people like me would put our firms on the scale and therefore the process would not be fair and open. I promised at the time that I would not do that. Now way over next year after the debates are over and South Carolina’s primary comes about. I don’t know. I may feel at the time as I did the last time to make an endorsement, but I won’t anytime soon.
DeRay: For listeners across the country who are trying to figure out what they should even think about when they’re thinking about choosing a president. There’re so many candidates. What advice do you have to people, like what issues do you think people should be listening for or their dispositions? Or like how are you thinking about making the decision that you’ll make?
James Clyburn: Well, I think that we ought to listen very close to these candidates and look at the number one electability as we think it should be. And number two, which candidate is putting forth programs and priorities that will make the greatness of this country accessible and affordable for all of its citizens.
James Clyburn: We can talk all we want about health care, but the question is: are your proposals allowing for healthcare to be accessible and affordable? Is education in your program accessible and affordable? (Is) housing accessible and affordable? Infrastructure? Broadband accessible and affordable? The accessibility and the affordability of the greatness of America are the things that ought to be put forth and we ought to consider as we talk to these candidates and listen to them.
DeRay: Do you have hope that we will get back the White House in 2020? How do you feel about the preparation for 2020 on the left?
James Clyburn: Well, I do and I really believe that we have to learn to respect each other, learn to really look at each other’s backgrounds and experiences. We’ve got to understand that we’ve got over 20 candidates. They all have different backgrounds. They all have a different set of experiences, and all of their voters. No two of their voters will have had the same experiences.
James Clyburn: But if we bring to this process a healthy dose of respect for each other and know that what we want is to leave a better country for our children and our grandchildren and we may not always agree on the best way to do that, but let’s respect each other as we go about these efforts. I think we’ll be successful in next November.
DeRay: You’ve been in Congress since ‘93 and there’s a new group of freshmen in Congress right now – like Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Presley, a whole set of people – who are using social media to shine light on how the government works and they seem to be pushing political boundaries for people. How have you seen the new freshman class come into Congress and help reshape the public’s perception or the institution itself.
James Clyburn: I welcome it. And so I respect all of these people. I have a very close relationship with many of them. I’ve been catching flack from some people because of my support for them. I don’t feel threatened by that at all. I believe it helps to add to what it is our country ought to be about.
James Clyburn: I have a grandson who I debate with every now and then. He’s 23 years old, very interested in politics. We don’t see the world the same way. And my youngest daughter sees it a little different than I see it. But that is the way we grow. You don’t always have to agree. In fact, if you always agree not much growth is going to take place. We have to reconcile those differences, learn to respect those differences, and work together to the help build a better future for our children and grandchildren.
James Clyburn: That’s what I’m all about. So none of this is a threat to me and I think that all of us ought to embrace the new people who are coming in, listen to them, and let them know what we think and maybe we can learn from them and they can learn from us.
DeRay: What do you say to people who are losing hope in this moment. There are a lot of people who have voted. They have protested. They’ve called. They emailed. They’ve done all the things they were told to do and the world didn’t change in the way that they wanted it to. What do you say to those people?
James Clyburn: Well, I say to them two things first of all. I believe in my state’s motto, which is: while I breathe. I hope. I say to young people all the time, “You can never lose hope.” When I ran the first time I was declared the winner at 10 o’clock in the evening. I got a knock on my door at 3:30 the next morning telling me to get down to the courthouse because though I thought I was a 5 in the vote winner it looked like I was being counted out and I was a 5 on the vote loser.
James Clyburn: I did not lose hope. I ran twice after that and I lost twice after. And I say to all of my friends three strikes and you’re not out in politics. That’s a baseball rule. And so I’ve stayed engaged and if I had quit after losing the third time, I never would have become the number three guy in the US House of Representatives.
James Clyburn: So I say to young people don’t ever lose hope. You stay engaged no matter what may have happened.
DeRay: Last question is what is a piece of advice that you have gotten over the years that has stuck with you?
James Clyburn: Well, my dad used to tell me all the time and I think it’s what led to my activism and to what I do today. He would say so often to me, “Son silence gives consent. You should not be silent in the face of what you consider to be wrongdoing because if you do it means simply that you consent for those things to take place.” That to me guides me.
And the day I told my father that I was not going to follow him into the ministry, he said this to me, “Well son,” he said, “I suspect the world would much rather see a sermon than to hear one.” And so I did not follow him into the ministry, but I tried to make sure that in all of my service, all of my actions that people see a good productive sermon in them. That to me was the most sage advice I’ve ever gotten.
DeRay: Thanks so much for joining us today on Pod Save the People and I look forward to talking to you as we get closer to 2020.
James Clyburn: Look forward to it. Thank you very much for having me.
DeRay: Well, that’s it. Thanks so much for tuning in at Pod Save the People this week. Tell your friends to check it out. Make sure that you rate it wherever you get your podcast whether it’s Apple Podcast or somewhere else and I’ll see you next week.