In This Episode
- Extreme weather is taking a toll around the globe, with intense storms battering parts of Europe, and a historic drought revealing long-submerged relics in other regions. China is also wrestling with one of its hottest, driest summers on record.
- A bitter recall campaign forced Chesa Boudin, San Francisco’s progressive district attorney, out of office in June. But critics of his replacement, Brooke Jenkins, say her new policies are troubling.
- And in headlines: a car explosion killed the daughter of a prominent Russian nationalist, Singapore will repeal a law that bans sex between men, and Rep. Liz Cheney said former Vice President Mike Pence should testify before the January 6th committee.
- Vote Save America: Fuck Bans Action Plan – https://votesaveamerica.com/roe/
- Crooked Coffee is officially here. Our first blend, What A Morning, is available in medium and dark roasts. Wake up with your own bag at crooked.com/coffee
Follow us on Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/whataday/
For a transcript of this episode, please visit crooked.com/whataday
Erin Ryan: It’s Monday, August 22nd. I’m Erin Ryan.
Josie Duffy Rice: And I’m Josie Duffy Rice. And this is What A Day, where we’re concerned about being deleted from HBO Max, even though our show was never even on HBO Max.
Erin Ryan: I feel like an early eighties episode of Sesame Street.
Josie Duffy Rice: I know.
Erin Ryan: So relevant, so beloved, and yet underappreciated by the people that matter.
Josie Duffy Rice: On today’s show, the daughter of a major Putin ally was killed in a car blast. Plus, a win for LGBTQ activists in Singapore.
Erin Ryan: But first, a song of fire and flood. And I’m not talking about that new Game of Thrones prequel series about a kingdom where everybody wears very fancy wigs. I’m talking about the ways climate change is manifesting before our eyes. Europe is currently facing its worst drought in years. In Germany, shocking photos of the Rhine River show that the once mighty waterway has shrunk to barely more than a trickle. And I’m only being a little hyperbolic Josie. In some places, the river is only 30 centimeters deep.
Josie Duffy Rice: That’s nothing.
Erin Ryan: That’s like a human forearm. It’s not very much. In addition to all the requisite headaches that come with water shortages, this is also causing trouble for the movement of goods. In recent weeks, cargo ships were forced to carry lighter loads than usual in order to make it down the Rhine. Now the water is so low that some ships can’t even make the trip while running empty. And over in Serbia, the Danube River is so low that wreckage of Nazi vessels from World War Two are now visible. Under normal circumstances, the wrecks are well below the surface of the water, but now 20 of them are exposed.
Josie Duffy Rice: So exposure of Nazi vessels, what does that mean? [laugh]
Erin Ryan: Well, it’s not good. The exposed wrecks are not only dangerous to other ships because, well, they’re in the way, but these newly resurfaced wrecks also contain Nazi bombs, that could explode. Josie, just to repeat, Nazi bombs that could explode. That means they’re environmental hazards for people who live on the banks of the river in Romania and Serbia. Southern Europe, meanwhile, was pummeled late last week by intense storms, with winds hitting up to 140 miles per hour at some point. At least 12 people have died in Italy, France, and Austria, including three children. 140 miles per hour is so intense, China is dealing with a drought and a heat wave of its own. Temperatures as high as 106 degrees Fahrenheit have wiped out crops in central China. And the water in the Yangtze River is dangerously low. In Sichuan, the drought has dried up reservoirs normally used to generate hydroelectric power. As a result, places like offices and shopping malls are being ordered to turn off air conditioning. Factories don’t have enough electricity to run, according to authorities. People in some rural areas will soon face drinking water shortages. It’s gotten so bad that China is planning to seed the clouds over areas suffering from drought, hoping to induce rain. Great idea. Messing with nature got us into this mess. I’m sure that messing with nature even more will get us out of it. At the same time, other parts of China are getting hit with flooding and mudslides, displacing hundreds of people from their homes. And extreme weather in northern India has turned deadly where monsoonal flash floods have killed at least 40 people.
Josie Duffy Rice: Seeding clouds, Nazi bombs, 140 mile per hour winds like these are things, in a way, apocalypse novel. Why is this happening?
Erin Ryan: Climate scientists believe that all of this is happening because of human driven climate change. As you probably guessed.
Josie Duffy Rice: And while extreme weather events are experienced most intensely by the people who are directly impacted, there are like further reaching implications of all of this. And I feel like not a lot of people think about those.
Erin Ryan: Exactly. So extreme weather events driven by climate change also impact the global supply chain and the global economy. Dry waterways means barriers to shipping, dead crops and shuttered factories means there isn’t anything to ship in the first place on a large scale. And over a long period of time, everybody on the planet is impacted by extreme weather events. So don’t tell yourself you can simply move to rural Ontario and escape the worst of it. Can’t go Alice Munro.
Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah.
Erin Ryan: And get away. It’s coming for everybody. And also apropos of nothing, I’m not sure Canada wants most of us.
Josie Duffy Rice: I wouldn’t want me either. However, if you are a Canadian and listening to this, please want me because I need you. Okay, let’s switch gears here from climate change to criminal justice. As we mentioned last week, George Gascón, the district attorney of Los Angeles, survived a recent recall attempt funded by tough on crime reactionaries. It was a better fate than that of Chesa Boudin, the former district attorney of San Francisco, who was recalled in June after a well-funded and intense effort to paint him as the source of San Francisco’s issues with crime. Boudin and Gascón are what have been described as, quote, “progressive prosecutors”, somewhat umbrella. But it generally means someone willing to say, like, hey, maybe all of these people shouldn’t be in prison. That makes the tough on crime contingent pretty irate. Um, Boudin was replaced by an interim district attorney, Brooke Jenkins, who actually used to work for Boudin but quit to support the recall campaign against him. Now, my expectations for Jenkins were not high, honestly, and I expected her to be like some great reformer. But Erin, I am still a little taken aback at just how many concerning choices she’s made in, like her first very few weeks.
Erin Ryan: There is so much double crossing and it’s not like cool double crossing, like in succession.
Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah.
Erin Ryan: It’s like frustrating double crossing.
Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah.
Erin Ryan: This is like, real.
Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah.
Erin Ryan: This is real. These are people’s real lives. But so much has happened in such a short period of time, just about a month and a half since she’s been in office. And some people may be thinking, well, that’s not that long. Give it time. But that’s almost why this stuff is worth mentioning, because it’s a lot to go wrong in a very short time.
Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah, exactly.
Erin Ryan: So let’s start with the recent issue about her getting paid money when she said she was a volunteer. This sounds not even like succession. This puts us into, like, Real Housewives territory.
Josie Duffy Rice: It’s not cool to do it when you’re not elected.
Erin Ryan: It’s double plus uncool if you’re an elected official.
Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah. So this is pretty wild. Jenkins claimed that she volunteered for the effort to recall Boudin and that she had quit her job to do so because it was so important to her. This was like a whole narrative, right? But it turns out that she was actually paid $153,000 dollars to be a consultant for a nonprofit that shares an address and basically a name with the recall effort. So neighbors for a better San Francisco paid her, but she volunteered for a group called Neighbors for a better San Francisco advocacy.
Erin Ryan: Oh, my goodness. Okay. So I did some napkin math.
Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah.
Erin Ryan: And I divided $150,000. We’ll just say we’ll just make it even. With the average income in the U.S., which is about $31,000. She made 4.8 times the average income.
Josie Duffy Rice: Mm hmm.
Erin Ryan: Volunteering?
Josie Duffy Rice: I just suggest everybody that next time you do a volunteer thing, you ask for.
Erin Ryan: You really need to lean in.
Josie Duffy Rice: Lean in.
Erin Ryan: Know your worth.
Josie Duffy Rice: Know your worth.
Erin Ryan: Advocate for yourself.
Josie Duffy Rice: Exactly.
Erin Ryan: That’s an insane amount of money.
Josie Duffy Rice: It’s really, really, really wild. And it’s wild to say, like, you’re doing this just out of your own conviction. An editorial in the San Francisco Examiner called this a, quote, “thinly veiled lie” and said it’s the quote “latest example of the prosecutors’ troubled relationship with the truth”. And I want to remind everybody, she’s been in office nearly weeks.
Erin Ryan: Yeah.
Josie Duffy Rice: I believe that people can grow.
Erin Ryan: Yeah.
Josie Duffy Rice: But, I also think it’s not great start.
Erin Ryan: This started so early on. So can you remind us like what happened during her first week?
Josie Duffy Rice: I think from the very first meeting in office, a lot of people got the sense that perhaps this was not going to be a very smooth transition. So according to the San Francisco Chronicle, multiple people there described the first meeting as, quote, “horrible, uncomfortable and at times insane”. I won’t get too far into the details. But notably, she did not seem to have many policy ideas or goals. The only thing she tried to make clear in that meeting, apparently, was that she wants to crack down on drug crimes. She wants harsher punishments for drug crimes.
Erin Ryan: Hmm. You know what? We are living in an era of reboots.
Josie Duffy Rice: Mm hmm.
Erin Ryan: Got to say that sounds to me like a reboot. I think I’ve heard this before.
Josie Duffy Rice: It is the worst possible reboot. As we all know, the war on drugs was famously successful.
Erin Ryan: I mean, the drugs won.
Josie Duffy Rice: The drugs won. The drugs won. Leading with that, tough crowd. Then a week later, she fired 15 people in the office. Now, on one hand, it’s her office now. You get to fire people, you get to hire people, whatever. On the other hand, she was appointed, not elected, and she could theoretically be out of office as soon as November when the next election is so, you know, 15 is like a pretty drastic number, right, for what could be a six month appointment that nobody voted for you. But it’s not just that she fired 15 people, it’s who she fired that was really, really telling. She fired the liaison to the city’s Innocence Commission. She fired the head of a unit that investigates police shootings. This is a woman who, like, considers herself to be a progressive prosecutor. It’s not looking good. Recently, one of the prosecutors in Jenkins office resigned, concerned that Jenkins is more focused on building political power than running the office, which she said in a publicly released letter. And all of this is combined with the fact that Jenkins has supported or instated policies that will mean a much tougher on crime environment. More drug users will be locked up. She’s been openly dismissive of diversion programs in the past. She said she’s leaning towards other pretty regressive policies, including being able to charge children as adults.
Erin Ryan: Maybe the children are gifted. Maybe they’re just–
Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah, yeah.
Erin Ryan: Especially gifted.
Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah.
Erin Ryan: She’s running in November, right?
Josie Duffy Rice: She is running in November. It’s her first time on the ballot. She’s running against some pretty good candidates, including John Hamasaki, the former San Francisco police commissioner. Keep in mind, this is like a bigger fight that’s happening across the country, right? So this is why this is relevant. We mentioned after Tampa District Attorney Andrew Warren said he would not pursue charges against those seeking abortions or the parents of trans children. He was suspended by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. Warren has filed a lawsuit claiming that the suspension was a violation of his First Amendment rights. We’ll see what happens there. But generally, there’s a lot of pushback against, quote unquote, “progressive prosecutors” who many people like to blame for any increase in any crime ever. But as we’ve said before, the increase in crime that has happened across jurisdictions in the country has happened in places with very tough prosecutors as well. Rural, city, red, blue. It might just be the pandemic. Anyway, this is a reminder to make sure that you know who is on the ballot for prosecutor and sheriff wherever you live, you still have a lot of time to ask them really tough questions, push for a better system than the absolute brutal one that we currently have. Better prosecutors are not a solution, they’re harm reduction, though. Harm reduction is important and it matters. That is the latest for now. We will be back after some ads.
Erin Ryan: Now let’s wrap up with some headlines.
Erin Ryan: A car explosion on the outskirts of Moscow killed the daughter of a prominent Russian nationalist Saturday night. Daria Dugina died at the scene and Russian authorities are investigating the explosion as a premeditated murder. Her father, Aleksander Dugin, is a close ally of Vladimir Putin and a vocal proponent of the war in Ukraine. Some allies of the family are pointing their fingers at the Ukrainian government, but an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky denied any involvement.
Josie Duffy Rice: Singapore will repeal a colonial era law that bans sex between men. It’s a huge win for LGBTQ+ activists. But during the announcement yesterday, Singapore’s prime minister said the city state would narrow the definition of marriage as one between a man and a woman. The move comes after other Asian countries like India made similar decisions in recent years.
Erin Ryan: Complicated caveated win.
Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah.
Erin Ryan: Members of a Georgia grand jury will have to wait a little longer to be lulled into an angry sleep by the singsong drone of Senator Lindsey Graham. A federal appeals court put a temporary stay on an order that would have required Graham to testify in the investigation, which is centered on efforts by Trump and his allies to overturn the 2020 election results in the state. Graham had been expected to testify tomorrow as a witness for the prosecution, but yesterday, an appeals court determined that his status as a federal lawmaker may exempt him from answering certain questions and kick the matter down to a lower court. Prosecutors had planned to ask about a 2020 phone call between Graham and Brad Raffensperger, where Graham asked the Georgia secretary of state to invalidate some mail in votes to help Trump. And just a quick note here, Josie. I did not realize when I was voting for elected officials that I was voting for people who I nominated to not have to follow any laws at all.
Josie Duffy Rice: That’s right.
Erin Ryan: It’s crazy that the Nixonian legal philosophy, if the president does it, it’s not illegal.
Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah.
Erin Ryan: Is now being like mission creeped down into the Senate.
Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah. It’s a party platform now. The era of Liz Cheney unchained is finally upon us, so help us. And the soon to be former representative from Wyoming kicked it off by sitting for an interview yesterday with ABC’s This Week. Cheney is vice chair of the January 6th committee, so she was asked if former Vice President Mike Pence should testify before the panel when hearings resume next month. Here’s what she said:
[clip of Liz Cheney] I would hope that he will understand how important it is for the American people to know every aspect of the truth about what happened that day.
Josie Duffy Rice: I know that she’s saying the party line, but I find it hilarious. This like, I hope they have the integrity. We know they don’t have the integrity. Cheney said the committee has spoken to Pence’s legal team and added that anyone with information about the insurrection had a, quote, “obligation to step forward”. And as far as whether former President Trump would testify, she said it’s a possibility but left it at that. If they do want Trump, it’s probably best to forgo a subpoena and opt for a giant net, like maybe like a honey trap or something. [laughter]
Erin Ryan: Louisiana’s Republican Attorney General, Jeff Landry, is risking millions of lives in New Orleans as part of an effort to be, quote unquote, “pro-life”. Last Thursday, he successfully argued against $39 million dollars in state funding for an infrastructure project that, when finished in 2024, would have protected NOLA against floods during storms. He did it in retaliation for the city council’s directive that law enforcement should not enforce the state’s abortion ban. That law bans the procedure without exceptions for rape or incest. Here is Jeff Landry at a recent meeting of the state’s bond commission over that $39 million dollars:
[clip of Jeff Landry] You can’t vow and swear. Solemnly swear to uphold the laws on one hand. And then on the other. Stand up and say, but I’m not going to uphold that one.
Josie Duffy Rice: It’s absurd, this idea. These people are lying to you and they tell you that they’re like constantly enforcing the law equally all of the time.
Erin Ryan: Mm hmm.
Josie Duffy Rice: It sounds like a very good argument. It is not happening.
Erin Ryan: Right.
Josie Duffy Rice: No one is doing that in any party. You can’t. There are so many laws. It is impossible to do that.
Erin Ryan: It’s absurd. And if the idea of holding a whole city hostage to climate change over abortion infuriates you, it should. Especially since that city was the site of one of the worst natural disasters in American history. And forecasters predict that there will be up to ten named hurricanes that form in the Atlantic this year. And I also want to add, if you’re somebody who has absolutely no heart and none of these things resonate with you, New Orleans generates a ton of revenue for that state. And the way it generates revenue is by having people visit and having the people that live there go out and enjoy the several thousands of cultural offerings in the city. Like you flood New Orleans, you’re cutting your head off to spite your face. You’re like, take that face. Oh, crap. I cut my own head off.
Josie Duffy Rice: Also, an update on the thing that turned every 23 year old on Reddit into Jordan Belfort for a month in 2021, meme stocks, cursed phrase. The Home Good Store/coupon mint Bed, Bath and Beyond is one of the latest companies to get the meme stock treatment. And it’s had a very crazy few weeks. On August 1st, it was trading at about $6 a share. But by last Wednesday, a Reddit fueled run had helped drive the value up nearly 300% to $23 a share. Then after activist investor, another cursed phrase, Ryan Cohen disclosed he was selling his massive 10% stake in the company last Thursday, Bed, Bath and Beyond plummeted back down to $11 a share and could fall even further today. So all this is like a lot of numbers, but if you need more of a narrative to grab on to, here’s one that could make you jealous or despondent or ready for the class war or all three. When the stock was at its highest, one 20 year old college student made about $110 million dollars by selling his stake. Math major Jake Freeman had bought 6.2% of Bed, Bath and Beyond in July after raising, are you ready? About $25 million dollars from friends and family. That is a direct quote. And surely most of us know how it is to be able to ask your friends and family for $25 million dollars.
Erin Ryan: I could maybe raise $2500 dollars from friends and family.
Josie Duffy Rice: I’m a solidly at 25. That’s about as much I’m getting. Before Freeman sold, this is my other favorite part of the story. He sent a letter to the company’s board outlining his recommendations for how to turn their struggling business around. Referencing his holding company, he said, quote, Freeman Capital’s plan for the realignment of Bed, Bath and Beyond consists of two crucial legs, cutting debt and raising capital. I have taken exactly one economics class in my life and I feel like I could have told them that. Imagine working for Bed, Bath and Beyond and a 20 year old comes in and tells you, hey, you guys should spend less money and make more money. [laughter] Oh, my God, we didn’t think of that. Thank you so much. Anyway, if in the process of doing business, you acquired any extra 20% off coupons from Bed, Bath and Beyond, please have him send those my way because I could use them.
Erin Ryan: And those are the headlines. [music break] That’s all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe. Leave a review. Send coupons of all kinds directly to us. Tell your friends to listen.
Josie Duffy Rice: And if you’re into reading and not just words engraved on the outside of recently surfaced Nazi boats like me, [laugh] What A Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at Crooked.com/subscribe. I’m Josie Duffy Rice.
Erin Ryan: I’m Erin Ryan.
[spoken together] And we’ll get you next time, Lindsey Graham. [laugh].
Erin Ryan: I love that characterization of him as a sort of like breakfast cereal mascot.
Josie Duffy Rice: I know, he’s like a boring villain.
Erin Ryan: He’s got, like sugar cereal vibes. But sugar cereal that you’re like.
Josie Duffy Rice: Right.
Erin Ryan: I asked you for Lucky Charms, and you brought me Lindsey Graham’s.
Josie Duffy Rice: Right, exactly. [music break] 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 Lita Martínez and Leo Duran. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.