In This Episode
- Oklahoma’s legislature passed the country’s strictest abortion bill. The ban goes further than Texas’ abortion law, and if signed by Republican Governor Kevin Stitt it would take effect immediately.
- After the New York State Court of Appeals declared maps drawn by the legislature unconstitutional, a court-appointed “special master” released a new set of Congressional districts for the state. The Brennan Center’s Michael Li joins us to discuss the chaos that erupted from New York’s newly drawn maps.
- And in headlines: the white gunman in Buffalo, New York’s racially motivated mass shooting appeared in state court, SpaceX reportedly paid $250,000 to settle a sexual misconduct claim against Elon Musk, and clusters of monkeypox have been reported in the U.S. and Europe.
Insider: “A SpaceX flight attendant said Elon Musk exposed himself and propositioned her for sex, documents show. The company paid $250,000 for her silence” – https://bit.ly/3sLFYgX
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Gideon Resnick: It’s Friday, May 20th. I’m Gideon Resnick.
Tre’vell Anderson: And I’m Tre’vell Anderson, and this is What A Day, with one of our first episodes ever that can be heard by Rihanna’s new baby.
Gideon Resnick: And for that, Rihanna’s baby, we kind of do apologize because this is a rough show news-wise. But, you know, it could get better.
Tre’vell Anderson: Or not.
Gideon Resnick: It could go either way, frankly, but we’re glad you’re listening.
Tre’vell Anderson: Yes, we are.
Gideon Resnick: On today’s show, we’re going to explain how New York’s newly-redrawn congressional maps could pit Democrats against Democrats. Plus, what you need to know about monkeypox cases.
Tre’vell Anderson: I don’t want to know anything. But first, yesterday, Oklahoma submitted its bid for worst state legislature in the country by passing what will be the nation’s strictest abortion ban.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah. Wow. So we obviously know that abortion bands are spreading across the country. But what more can you tell us about how this one is going to impact folks in Oklahoma?
Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah. So with the passage of this bill, anyone who quote, “aids and abets” an abortion, as well as abortion providers, can be sued in civil court by private citizens, even if you live out of state, but are helping someone who lives in Oklahoma. It’s modeled after the law that took effect in Texas back in September, which relies on civilians instead of criminal enforcement. As a reminder, it is that particular provision that has prevented the courts from actually blocking the bans as unconstitutional. Because state authorities cannot actually bring any of the charges, constitutional rights are not being violated, they say.
Gideon Resnick: Right.
Tre’vell Anderson: The Oklahoma ban, though, which passed 73 to 16, goes further than the Texas law. In Texas, the ban is on abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy. In Oklahoma. It’ll ban abortions from the moment an egg is fertilized. Now, while there are exceptions made for pregnancies as a result of rape and incest, the person seeking the abortion must have reported those crimes to law enforcement, which, if you’ve watched even a handful of episodes of Law and Order SVU, then you know like I know, like they definitely know, that those types of crimes are underreported, if reported at all.
Gideon Resnick: Right. And so what would this punishment then be for those who assist in an abortion procedure?
Tre’vell Anderson: Well, if signed by Governor Kevin Stitt, who is a Republican that has pledged to make his state the most anti-abortion one in the nation, as if that is a badge of honor, the bill would take effect immediately. It would allow civilian lawsuits against anyone who helps pay for an abortion, and those who sue successfully would be given awards of at least $10,000, as well as compensatory damages for whatever alleged, quote, “emotional distress” they’ve experienced by essentially minding other people’s business.
Gideon Resnick: Right.
Tre’vell Anderson: But the impact here is greater than just on Oklahomans. For those who haven’t seen a map of the United States in a minute like myself, Oklahoma is directly north of Texas. And when Texas’s ban went into effect, people who needed such health care started crossing state lines into Oklahoma. With this new bill, however, those folks have to look for options even further out from where they live. After the bill was passed, Democratic Oklahoma House Representative Mauree Turner tweeted, quote, “The leadership we are under right now does not care if we live or die. The only thing our governor cares about is protecting his power while using fear and intimidation against us, using our rights as the playing pieces of his sick game with the Oklahoma legislature.”
Gideon Resnick: Yeah. Wow. Unbelievable.
Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah.
Gideon Resnick: Shifting to some redistricting news from earlier this week in New York State, on Monday, a court-appointed, quote unquote, “special master” released a new set of congressional districts for the state. So that happened after Democratic leaders proposed a map earlier this year that could have potentially netted Democrats another three House seats in November’s elections. But the New York State Court of Appeals declared that unconstitutional and said they would appoint someone to redraw them. Well, the result from that new draft map has been chaos, specifically for Democrats.
Tre’vell Anderson: Okay, what kind of chaos? Lay it on us nice, Gideon.
Gideon Resnick: I’ll try. Okay, so the newly-proposed districts are leading to, shall we say, some uncomfortable political calculations that are going on. So in one situation, Representative Sean Patrick Maloney, who is white, decided to leave his newly-drawn district and run in a neighboring one that includes most of Representative Mondaire Jones’ constituents. So now Jones, a Black progressive freshman member, could either run against Maloney–who also, by the way, runs the House campaign arm, which is a separate thing–or Jones could go to a newly-drawn neighboring district against Representative Jamaal Bowman, another Black progressive freshman. So that’s the kind of mess we’re talking about so far. Yesterday, Representative Hakeem Jeffries went so far as to say in a digital ad that the proposed map was taking, quote, “a sledgehammer to Black districts. It’s enough to make Jim Crow blush.”
Tre’vell Anderson: And I imagine it takes a lot to make Jim Crow blush. All right? Now we’re recording this episode on Thursday night, but when people hear this on Friday, the proposed map could already be finalized?
Gideon Resnick: It’s possible. So the final plans are going to go to a state court judge today for approval, but in advance of that, a number of other groups representing marginalized communities have also been submitting responses saying the maps would dilute their political power, specifically in New York City. So before we see that map and what may come as a result of it, I wanted to check in with Michael Li. He is the senior counsel for the Brennan Center’s Democracy Program. I spoke with him yesterday, and I started by asking him to give more details about New York’s current chaotic proposed map.
Michael Li: So some of the biggest ramifications are in the New York City area, where the special master redrew a lot of districts that had been in place for a long period of time. And really, I think one thing that is very clear from the maps is that there was no regard to incumbency. It doesn’t look like he had turned on, in the map drawing software, where the incumbents live and so as a result, a number of incumbents are paired against each other. In Manhattan, Carolyn Maloney is paired against Jerry Nadler. In the Bronx, in Westchester, Jamaal Bowman and Mondaire Jones, two Black members of Congress, now live in the same district, although it’s not clear that they’re both going to run in that district. But the pairings are so much the biggest complaints, I think there are some complaints that the map might dilute the voting power of Black voters, particularly in Brooklyn. That is a concern. And likewise, Asian communities have raised concerns about the fracturing of Asian communities in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens. And so people have suggested changes to the map that would undo some of that. We will see whether the special master agrees that those are things that can be remedied or not.
Gideon Resnick: In terms of the possibility of incumbent Democrats running against each other, there is a similar situation I saw that was playing out in Georgia. So how often do you sort of anticipate we’re going to see that?
Michael Li: Well, it does happen from time to time, you know, particularly when a state loses a congressional seat. Somebody has to run and, you know, will be paired with somebody, and so that sometimes happens. Likewise, sometimes it happens, as in Georgia, because of gerrymandering. Republicans are in Georgia drew Lucy McBath out of her district and she chose instead to run in the neighboring district, which had gotten a lot more democratic. The problem is that Carolyn Bordeaux also wants to run in that district. So now there is a primary battle on between the two of them in the suburbs of Atlanta. In New York, likewise, it is not uncommon that there are pairings that result when you unwind gerrymanders or maps that are problematic. But in the New York case, the New York Constitution prohibits drawing maps to favor or disfavor an incumbent and it does look like the special master just decided the best way to do that is not to even consider where incumbents are, and not to have to worry about that issue and simply draw the maps and let the cards fall where they may, which is one way to approach the issue.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, just to go a little bit more broad here, I saw you were tweeting about the Post-Enumeration Survey from the census. What did we learn from that and what are the ramifications of what we found out so far?
Michael Li: So it’s a fancy word Post-Enumeration Survey, but after every census, the Census Bureau does basically what is a quality check to see how accurate it got the hard count of people in the census, and the Census Bureau has completed its Post-Enumeration Survey from the 2020 census, and it turns out that 48 states had fairly significant undercounts or over counts. Texas, for example, was undercounted by about 2%. And it seems like Texas, had it been fully counted, would have picked up an additional congressional seat. And so Texas, instead of picking up just two, would have had three. That really, I think, sort of shows how Texas, you know, ended up creating this problem itself, because the Texas legislature chose not to allocate any money to encourage census turn out, in contrast to states like New York and California, which spent tens and tens of millions of dollars to make sure that everybody participated in the census. Texas spent $0, and it does seem like it has come back to bite them. And it’s almost certain that that undercount will disproportionately affect people of color, and so as redistricting fights take place in Texas and people argue about the legal obligation to create additional minority districts and the like, the data that they will be using will have undercounts built into them, and they can make those cases challenging to bring. And so it’s certainly a cautionary lesson for states going forward that in your own interest you have everybody counted because it’s not only for redistricting, billions and billions of dollars are allocated every year based on the census results. And Texas is losing out because it’s undercounted by about 2%.
Gideon Resnick: Is there anything that can be done about that before the next census? Is there any sort of situation in which you could apply the correction, I guess, for lack of a better term?
Michael Li: Calibrating it correctly, I think, is something that the Census Bureau, they’re really pros at this. And I think they’re very committed to, the new census director Rob Santos seems very committed to making the census better. But the planning for the next census has already begun. It takes about ten years to do it. So there’s a lot of lead-up and we’ll see what happens.
Gideon Resnick: So that was my conversation with Michael Li, the senior counsel for the Brennan Center’s Democracy Program. More on all of this very soon, but that is the latest for now. Let’s get to some headlines.
Gideon Resnick: Yesterday, the 18-year old white man accused of targeting and killing ten Black people and wounding three others in Buffalo, New York, last Saturday appeared in state court. A grand jury voted to indict the suspect on first-degree murder, although their investigation is not yet complete. They could indict him on further charges in the next month or so. The gunman was initially charged with one count of first-degree murder just hours after his arrest on Saturday. And at the time, he pleaded not guilty. This new indictment, however, covers all ten deaths. If convicted, he could face life in prison. Yesterday’s court appearance was brief and some family members of the victims attended. The gunman is currently accused of targeting a specific grocery store in a B lack neighborhood of Buffalo. And federal officials are still investigating the shooting as a possible hate crime. The judge announced the gunman’s next court appearance will be on June 9th, and in the meantime, the suspect is being held without bail. Meanwhile, more funerals for those who were murdered are being held today.
Tre’vell Anderson: Space X reportedly paid a flight attendant $250,000 to settle a sexual misconduct claim that was leveled against Elon Musk in 2018. That is according to an exclusive from Insider, whose reporting is based on a declaration signed by a friend of the attendant, plus other documents. Insider says the incident occurred in 2016 and involved Musk, quote, “exposing his erect penis to her, rubbing her leg without consent, and offering to buy her a horse in exchange for an erotic massage.”
Gideon Resnick: Wow.
Tre’vell Anderson: Per that declaration, the woman said that she’d been encouraged after being hired as a flight attendant to train as a masseuse so she could give Musk massages. The alleged incident occurred during a massage session. When Insider reached Musk for comment, he initially e-mailed to ask for additional time, saying there is, quote, “a lot more to this story.” He referred to the story as a, quote, “politically-motivated hit piece” and said that, quote, “If I were inclined to engage in sexual harassment, this is unlikely to be the first time in my entire 30-year career that it comes to light.” Insider said he did not comment further after being given an extension to do so. We will link to this story in our show notes.
Gideon Resnick: Disturbing. We need to tell you about a bad thing named after a beautiful animal. Yes, we are talking about monkeypox. A case of it was reported in Massachusetts yesterday, along with a possible case in New York. Zooming out further, several clusters of monkeypox have been reported over the past two weeks in places like Spain, Portugal, Canada, and the UK, where the infectious disease is rarely found. If you want a monkeypox primer, it is similar to the smallpox virus, it often spreads from rodent to human, and nowadays it’s most commonly detected in Central and West Africa. It causes fever and swollen lymph nodes and eventually fluid-filled bumps or pox on people’s skin–I did not pause to ask if you wanted the primer. I apologize. It’s not anywhere near as transmissible as COVID, so you can breathe a sigh of relief, preferably with a mask on, since COVID cases are still high. But the recent rise in monkeypox cases is unusual, particularly because some of the infected individuals had no travel links to places where monkeypox is more common, indicating some amount of community spread. There’s also evidence that the virus could be spreading sexually this time around, and at least in the UK, is predominantly infecting individuals who self-identify as men who have sex with men. Again, the case numbers that we were talking about here are in the low dozens. And the bottom line, according to experts, is don’t panic. The director of Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security told The Washington Post, quote, “I think the risk to the general public at this point from the information we have is very, very low.”
Tre’vell Anderson: Monkeypox–I need whoever is playing Mother Nature up there to slow down. Just going to leave it like that, okay?
Gideon Resnick: We agree. Yep.
Tre’vell Anderson: One Republican congressman is learning firsthand about the dangers of being a terrific host: Representative Barry Loudermilk from Georgia has been called to testify to the House January 6th Committee about tours that the committee says he led through the Capitol complex on the day before the insurrection. We’ve heard about these tours before. Soon after the attack, 34 House Democrats signed on to a letter to the Capitol Police asking the department to investigate them, suggesting that an unusually large number of tours were given on January 5th. These claims were denied by House Republicans, who said security footage from that day showed, quote, “no tours, no large groups, no one with MAGA hats on”–which sounds like a line that Trump would say. In calling Loudermilk to testify, the January 6th committee said it had evidence that, quote, “directly contradicts those Republican denials.” The Capitol may be haunted, but the people Democrats saw there were not ghosts. After Loudermilk;s possible stint as an insurrection travel agent, he was one of the 147 Republicans who voted on January 6th to overturn the 2020 election results. The House committee wants to meet with next week.
Gideon Resnick: This is just person after person getting called into the principal’s office by name at this point, week by week on that.
Tre’vell Anderson: We could have just done a group reprimand, you know?
Gideon Resnick: Yeah. Get it done in one conversation. I love the “an unusually large number of tours were given,” just so happens to be the day before this other big thing happened. Interesting. What a time that we live in. And those are the headlines. We’ll be back after some ads with a story about the evil lady luck from a small town in Japan.
Gideon Resnick: It’s Friday WAD squad and for today’s temp check, talking about the nightmare that can begin when free money lands on your doorstep. A 24-year old man was arrested this Wednesday in Japan after he gambled away $360,000 in COVID-19 aid that he had received by accident. His name is Sho Taguchi, and he lives in a small town called Abu that is home to just over 3,000 people. Low-income households in that town were supposed to receive about $800 each from the government. Instead, though, all of that money was wired to Taguchi–yikes. He refused to give it back when confronted by authorities and eventually revealed that he had lost it all at online casinos–what are you doing?! Reflecting on the way Taguchi gained access to the money, one prosecutor in Abu told The New York Times, quote, “The town’s approach was not strict enough. Maybe their approach was based on a view of human nature as fundamentally good.” That is a brutal reading of them. So, Tre’vell, what do you make of this and would you be more or less responsible than Taguchi here?
Tre’vell Anderson: Okay, so here’s the thing, Gideon, all right? If I mysteriously stumbled upon $360,000 and I knew I had to return it, I can see one saying, You know what, let me take a couple of these coins, see if I can, like, double it, you know, at the casino, and then I can still give these people back their money, but also have a little for myself. It just seems like maybe Mr. Sho wasn’t as lucky as he thought he would be, you know, at the roulette table.
Gideon Resnick: I had the similar good-natured view of the situation, which was. Yeah, he was like, Oh, 360,000, would you like 720,000? Or perhaps even more? He was just waiting to try to give everybody even more money. This is obviously crazy, but it strikes me as very similar to those stories in the US with those like PPP loans that you would see going to some, you know, 22-year old guy in South Florida who all of a sudden had like six Lamborghinis, or whatever. So, you know, I guess in that sense, encouraging some perspectives that 20-something year old men across the world when given a lot of money, will not know what to do with it, I guess. Ai yi yi. Okay. Just like that, we have checked our temps. Be careful with your local governments money.
Tre’vell Anderson: Yes.
Gideon Resnick: Please.
Tre’vell Anderson: One more thing before we go: we can’t give too much away right now, but Crooked has something big coming soon. It’s been in the works for over a year and it’s something pretty much everyone at Crooked loves.
Gideon Resnick: Again, we are extremely limited in what we’re allowed to reveal, and if we go too far, only God knows what Crooked could do to us. For now, all we’re allowed to tell you about this thing is that it is delicious.
Tre’vell Anderson: It is delicious. What could it be?
Gideon Resnick: It’s a pie that gets delivered to my face every day.
Tre’vell Anderson: Is that what you really want, Gideon?
Gideon Resnick: Sure. I don’t know.
Tre’vell Anderson: Well, stay tuned. Beautiful people. When there’s an announcement. You’ll be the first to hear it.
Gideon Resnick: That is all for today. If you’d like the show, make sure you subscribe, leave review, fire your insurrection travel agent, and tell your friends to listen.
Tre’vell Anderson: And if you are into reading, and not just the terms and conditions of any free money that arrives by mail like me, What A Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at Crooked.com/subscribe. I’m Tre’vell Anderson.
Gideon Resnick: I am Gideon Resnick.
[together] And thanks for listening, Rihanna’s baby!
Gideon Resnick: We’re sorry that the world is the way that it is, but frankly, we can’t really control that.
Tre’vell Anderson: We just read the news out, honey. Okay?
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, but welcome and thank you.
Tre’vell Anderson: Yes. For all the brilliance you will bestow upon us, we know.
Gideon Resnick: Thank you in advance. What A Day is a production of Crooked Media. It’s recorded and mixed by Bill Lancz. Jazzy Marine and Raven Yamamoto are our associate producers. Our head writer is Jon Millstein, and our executive producers are Leo Duran and me, Gideon Resnick. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.