In This Episode
- The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case that directly challenges Roe v. Wade, which deals with a 2018 Mississippi law that bans abortions after 15 weeks of gestation. This is not a drill: based on the current makeup of the court, there’s a real possibility that Roe could get overturned, which would allow 21 states to immediately ban or restrict abortion.
- The Israeli military continued to barrage the Gaza Strip, yesterday, with this month’s attacks leaving hundreds of Palestinians dead, thousands wounded, and over 38,000 displaced. In Israel, rocket strikes from Hamas have killed at least 10 people. President Biden has reportedly expressed support for a ceasefire.
- And in headlines: the U.S. will ship 20 million vaccine doses abroad, Biden releases his taxes, and Gaetz associate Joel Greenberg pleads guilty.
Gideon Resnick: It’s Tuesday, May 18th.
Erin Ryan: I’m Erin Ryan, in for Akilah Hughes.
Gideon Resnick: And I’m Gideon Resnick, and this is What A Day, reminding you that the government knows where UFOs are but will not let you fly them.
Erin Ryan: The truth is out there, but it’s in the garage and not until you’re 18.
Gideon Resnick: I’m so tired of the government being like my lame-ass parents. On today’s show, we break down some of the US’s response to the ongoing violence in Israel and Palestine. Plus, we’ll have some headlines. But first, the latest.
Erin Ryan: Yesterday, the Supreme Court did what pro-choice advocates have been warning everybody they’d do from the moment Donald Trump was first elected president in 2016. They have agreed to hear a case that directly challenges Roe v. Wade. For proponents of abortion access, this news is not good.
Gideon Resnick: No, it is not. So let’s get into the case itself. What do we know about it?
Erin Ryan: So the case is Dobbs v. The Jackson Women’s Health Organization, and it deals with a 2018 Mississippi law that bans abortion after 15 weeks gestation. Nearly 50 years of court precedent spanning from 1973’s Roe v. Wade to 1992’s Planned Parenthood v. Casey, and beyond, have established that the government has no constitutional right to ban abortion prior to the point of fetal viability. That’s when a fetus could survive outside of the womb. A healthy pregnancy usually takes about 40 weeks. And even with state-of-the-art care, a fetus almost never survives outside of its mother’s body before around 24 weeks, which is well after Mississippi’s proposed cutoff.
Gideon Resnick: So the Mississippi law was unconstitutional when lawmakers there actually passed it.
Erin Ryan: You’re right. It was and is unconstitutional given current precedent. And the federal district court and federal appeals court ruled that way when the same case came before them. But that’s the point. Laws like this are designed to directly challenge precedents like Roe v. Wade if they make it to the Supreme Court. The Mississippi law in question challenges states’ rights to make laws banning abortion before the point of fetal viability.
Gideon Resnick: OK, so then why did the bill’s authors pick 15 weeks as the cutoff? Is there’s something important about that number when it comes to fetal development or abortions.
Erin Ryan: So 15 weeks is around the beginning of the second trimester and the vast majority of abortions take place in the first trimester, so within those first 15 weeks. So-called “late term” abortions are comparatively rare. But later abortions often take place under more tragic or desperate circumstances like, say, it took a long time to get the money together to afford an abortion, or it’s difficult to reach an abortion clinic, or a blood test found a serious birth defect in the fetus. And the way that prenatal tests work means that some serious birth defects can’t be detected with 100% certainty until right around the 20th week of pregnancy. So banning abortions after the 15th week or even the 20th week causes parents facing tragedy fewer choices, and it causes a lot more suffering.
Gideon Resnick: Yet this country certainly does love to legislate suffering, it seems. So why are proponents of abortion rights so nervous in this case? Is there a world in which the court just says: just getting it’s your body—and they reaffirm Roe v. Wade?
Erin Ryan: That would be really funny if that was Amy Coney Barrett’s first opinion: we got ya, we got ya! With that red Handmaid’s dress. It’s because the fact that the Supreme Court agreed to hear this case in the first place, despite all of the lower courts agreeing that Mississippi’s law is unconstitutional, indicates that the Supreme Court has something additional to say about the law.
Gideon Resnick: Right. Right.
Erin Ryan: And according to Slate’s Mark Joseph Stern, the state of Mississippi gave the court several options for what the central question of the case was. And the court picked the option that directly challenged Roe’s viability standard that I was mentioning before—within those 24 weeks. Five of the nine current justices are ultra conservative and hostile to abortion rights, and so—I know I’ve said this already, but I cannot emphasize enough—that if you care about abortion access, this is not a drill.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah. So then let’s just explore this. In the worst-case scenario, what happens if the court overturns Roe v. Wade?
Erin Ryan: So if Roe is overturned and again—not to Chicken Little here, but Roe is about to be seriously weakened or overturned—then 10 states will see abortion bans immediately go into effect. Nine additional states will have to answer the question of whether their pre-Roe abortion ban’s still apply. In all, 21 states would immediately ban or restrict abortions. In many places it goes back to the way it was before Roe, which means that wealthy women will still be able to have abortions secretly and safely—albeit illegally. And the disenfranchised will resort to dangerous methods. For many others, especially those who are low income, rural, in abusive or exploitative situations, or who have difficulty communicating in English, abortion is already very difficult to access. And if conservatives get their way, they’re not going to stop here. If the viability standard is struck down entirely, there’s really nothing to stop lawmakers from interfering with things like in-vitro fertilization and the morning after pill. And I know that sounds crazy, but if you don’t believe me, you can spend a very disturbing afternoon researching fetal personhood, because that is the next thing that they’re going to try.
Gideon Resnick: Oh, this is all so much. So when will we know the outcome of this case? And is there anything to be done in the meantime?
Erin Ryan: Well, the court will hear oral arguments in the fall, with a ruling due next summer, just in time for midterms—make sure you’re registered to vote. But listeners out there can check out what’s going on in your own states. And if Democrats are in charge, you can encourage your elected officials to enshrine abortion access into state law. They just did something like that in New Mexico. Go New Mexico. You can also donate to abortion funds that help low income women access reproductive choice in places like Texas and the Deep South. But for now—and I just cannot emphasize this enough—for our listeners out there who are not personally women, but maybe have a woman or two in your lives who is freaking out right now: don’t tell the women to calm down about this! Because the women who are freaking out about this are right. All right, turning to other news, Gideon, we are still following the situation in Israel and Palestine. So take us through what we need to know there.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah. So according to the latest available reporting, as we go to record, the Israeli military has been continuing to barrage the Gaza Strip yesterday. The Gaza Health Ministry says at least 212 Palestinians have been killed, including 61 children with more than 1,400 wounded. Meanwhile, the AP reported that at least 10 people in Israel, including a five-year old boy, have died from rocket attacks, launched into civilian areas. Then on top of all of this, the United Nations said that over 38,000 Palestinians have been displaced, with thousands left homeless, quite literally, because of the destruction of their homes. And going into today, there was a call from Palestinians for a general strike in Gaza, the West Bank, and Israel, as a way to seek an end to the recent air strikes and the occupation more broadly.
Erin Ryan: Oh, gosh, we’re going to bomb our way out, of this is that the plan? Is they’re going to try to bomb their way out? OK. And we’ve touched on the U.S. response or lack thereof. But what’s the latest update there?
Gideon Resnick: So, first of all, the White House said the President Biden expressed support for a cease-fire in a call with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu yesterday. But that, of course, is not a call to end the bombing campaign. And Netanyahu has said that he plans on continuing it. Then there were also reports on Sunday that the U.S. blocked a statement from the U.N. Security Council calling for an immediate cease-fire for, get this: the third time in a week!
Erin Ryan: Gideon. Quick question. What the fuck are we doing?
Gideon Resnick: Your guess is as good as mine. So as you can see, the administration has been pretty reticent to invoke the term cease-fire up until quite recently. Before yesterday’s call. White House officials opted for some bizarre and toothless language like, quote “sustainable calm.” But separately, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken did say something important yesterday that I want to flag, which was that he hadn’t personally seen any information to back up the claim from Israel that Hamas was operating in a building that got bombed over the weekend, and housed bureaus for the AP and Al-Jazeera—which was the primary excuse for why that had happened in the first place. The media watchdog Reporters Without Borders asked the International Criminal Court to investigate that as a possible war crime.
Erin Ryan: And also looking at the U.S., what are the details of this arms sale that was just approved?
Gideon Resnick: Yes, so this was in a Washington Post report, but the Bush administration reportedly approved a $735 million sale of weapons to Israel. So that is where some of our tax dollars are going as of late. Now, Congress was informed of this on May 5th, and that was before the most recent violence began. And members then typically have 15 days to object. According to the report, some Democrats said they were actually caught off guard by the fact that this was happening, including House Foreign Relations Committee Chair Gregory Meeks. And this particular sale is fueling a broader pushback from some progressive Democrats who have long questioned why these things happen with little to no oversight and scrutiny. Two members of the committee, Representatives Omar and Castro, told the Post that the sale would undercut any efforts at a cease-fire.
Erin Ryan: Yeah, it’s like if the fire department came to your house, which was on fire—and I know I use the fire house thing a lot—but instead of spraying with water, they just traded off spraying it with water and gasoline. Like, what are we doing?
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, yeah. Well, to that point, that is the question they’re asking. So late yesterday, there was some reporting that Meeks was formally requesting a delay of the sale from the administration. So we’ll see how that all develops and what other pressures are applied to the White House. Soon as well, we’re also going to have some voices from the U.S. and Palestine talking about all that has happened over these past few weeks. But that is the latest for now.
Gideon Resnick: It’s Tuesday, WAD squad, and for today’s temp check, we are talking about the political power of dipping sauces. So Chick-fil-A announced last week that it would limit sauces to one packet per item in response to industry-wide supply chain shortages. Some Republicans quickly seized on the sauce limit as a political football, with Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt writing in a recent fundraising email that, quote “Chick-fil-A has a sauce shortage. And want to know why? Because of Joe Biden’s radical liberal policies.” That is right. Stitt didn’t elaborate on the connections here, but he does seem to know the solution since he suggested that by donating, supporters of his reelection campaign could, quote “make sure Chick-fil-A never has another sauce shortage.” Oh, yeah. So Erin, Stitt’s making a pretty interesting argument here. Do you buy it?
Erin Ryan: Honest to God, Gideon, when I first saw this story, I thought it was a bunch of conservatives like joking. I thought they were like doing a, like a, like a bit. And I was like: oh, this is like actually sort of funny, if they’re all like coordinating, pretending to be mad, and like blaming Joe Biden for the Chick-Fil-A thing. But upon further investigation, aka reading about it, I think that they’re serious. What?! OK, and another thing is like, if you have your Confederate flag boxer briefs in a twist over the fact that Chick-fil-A is running out of sauce, do you know how easy it is to make sauces? You can just make them at your house, and then you can take your things that you’re going to dip home, and dip them in homemade sauces. You can also buy sauces at Trader Joe’s. I’m a big fan of the sweet chili, like the Thai Sweet Chili sauce that you can get at Trader Joe’s.
Gideon Resnick: Yes.
Erin Ryan: There’s, there are ways around this, like you guys are supposed—innovate! Innovate your way out of this. Anyway.
Gideon Resnick: Yes. Free market it. I think it’s really funny that, imagine a world where the job of your politicians was to ensure the fact that you had adequate sauce from Chick-fil-A, and that was like the most powerful thing that they could do. I would maybe opt for the world honestly. Like take away some of the other powers that we imbue all of these people with and just keep it simple like Stitt is talking about here. If you reelect me, I’ll make sure that there’s more sauce, because the other guy, whose only power is legislating sauce, is taking sauce away.
Erin Ryan: Oh, yeah. You know what? Personally, I am so much more willing to trust somebody like Kevin Stitt or any of the governors of any red states, who I’m assuming have eaten plenty of sauce before, to make laws around sauce. Versus what they currently do, which is not have uteruses and make laws about women’s health.
Gideon Resnick: Correct.
Erin Ryan: So, yeah. Sauce law, let’s focus on them.
Gideon Resnick: Stick with what you know. But just like that, we have checked our temps. Stay safe, make sure that you have the sauce that makes you happy because I guess the president’s taking them away, and we’ll be back after some ads.
Gideon Resnick: Let’s wrap up with some headlines.
Gideon Resnick: The now former Brooklyn Center Minnesota police officer responsible for fatally shooting Daunte Wright is set to stand trial in December. Kimberly Potter was charged with second-degree manslaughter for allegedly mistaking her handgun for a Taser and killing Wright, a 20-year old black man. Wright’s family attorney argued against the shooting being accidental, saying that Potter, who is a 26-year police veteran, would have known the difference between a Taser and a handgun. Potter is expecting to plead not guilty. This is the latest development in a case that sparked national attention and local changes. The police chief at the time resigned after defending Potter’s actions, and the city council reorganized by firing the city manager and turning control of the police department to the mayor’s office. Potter resigned from her job before her arrest and was released on $100,000 bail.
Erin Ryan: President Biden announced yesterday that the U.S. plans to ship millions of its surplus COVID vaccine doses out to countries that need them the most. 20 million doses of Pfizer, Moderna and J&J will be donated, in addition to the 60 million AstraZeneca doses set to go out once that shot is FDA approved. This announcement came after a director at the World Health Organization said countries with high vaccination rates need to do more to help countries currently being hit hard by the pandemic. According to Biden, 60% of Americans will have had their first shot by today, ahead of the 70% target he set for the Fourth of July. That’s happening while countries like India are experiencing a surge in infections. The administration will be working with the WHO’s Global Access Program, or Covax, to make sure that the doses are distributed fairly.
Gideon Resnick: See, this wasn’t all that hard. Last year when millions of Americans came together to call for some, quote “normalcy” to return to the White House, they were talking about one thing: presidents who let you see their W-2s. That dream came true yesterday when Biden released his 2020 tax returns in accordance with a tradition that’s been upheld by every president since Richard Nixon except for, yes, Trump. President Biden and his wife, Jill Biden made just over $600,000 last year. According to those forms, they paid $157,000 in federal taxes, meaning they did not qualify for the free version of Turbo Tax. You can compare this number to the $750 Trump paid during his election year of 2016. Now, back then, the tax rate was zero, IF you were willing to write down all fake numbers—it is one tactic. Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband, Doug Emhoff also released their returns, showing an income of $1.7 million. I might be remembering this wrong, but I think Mike Pence’s 2016 tax returns show that he earned nothing that year but a lumpy sack of beans he was told had magic powers.
Erin Ryan: I heard that Mike Pence is technically a church, so he doesn’t have to pay taxes wherever he goes.
Gideon Resnick: He’s exempt. Brilliant.
Erin Ryan: Yeah, he’s, he’s become a church. The Church of Mike Pence, he just sits there and looks like he doesn’t know what’s going on and that’s his whole religion. Here’s the latest update on the human average of every man who’s been banned from Hinge, Congressman Matt Gaetz. His longtime associate, Joel Greenberg, is now a convicted sex trafficker, among other things, after pleading guilty to six charges in Florida yesterday. Greenberg also agreed to cooperate fully with prosecutors and testify in court in other cases, which has major implications for Gaetz. The Justice Department’s investigation into Gaetz over sex trafficking developed directly from Greenberg’s investigation. And in a letter obtained by The Daily Beast, Greenberg wrote that Gates paid for sex with a 17-year old girl. The complete list of crimes Greenberg admitted to includes, brace yourself Gideon.
Gideon Resnick: I’m holding on.
Erin Ryan: It’s great. Identity theft: he stole the identity of a guy who sold him a boat so that he could make a fake driver’s license that he would help, that he would use in the commission of more sex crimes. He also stole random driver’s licenses of other Floridians and he gave them out to women he was doing sex trafficking with.
Gideon Resnick: Good lord.
Erin Ryan: Very, very classy guy. Wire fraud: he stole money from the county he was working for and he used it to buy Bitcoin for himself.
Gideon Resnick: As one does.
Erin Ryan: And then he covered his debts by borrowing money in 100 and 200,000 intervals from family members who were like: you need another loan, OK. [laughs] It’s absurd. He is Florida man embodied. If there was, like Mister, like a Miss America, Florida, but like the most incredibly Florida guy, it would be Greenberg.
Gideon Resnick: Dear lord.
Erin Ryan: Yes. Gaetz will characterized the guilty plea as a clear example of growing self-cancel culture. Greenberg’s charges come with a mandatory minimum sentence of twelve years, but whether he serves more or less than that depends on his cooperation with prosecutors.
Gideon Resnick: And I just a, that is a laundry list. Yikes. Our show is far too short for all of the things that Greenberg has been accused of, but those are the headlines.
Gideon Resnick: One more thing before we go this week on America Dissected, Dr. Abdul El-Sayed is joined by fellow doctor, Sanjay Gupta, to talk about all the changes that have happened over the past year in medical journalism, and highlight a few stories that he wished more people were paying attention to. New episodes of America Dissected are out every Tuesday. Do not miss out. Subscribe on Apple Podcast, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts.
Gideon Resnick: That is all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe, leave a review, give us the keys to the flying saucer already, and tell your friends to listen.
Erin Ryan: And if you’re into reading, and not just tax returns like me, What A Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe, at Crooked.com/subscribe. I’m Erin Ryan.
Gideon Resnick: I’m Gideon Resnick.
[together] And savor your sauces!
Gideon Resnick: Joe Biden, you will not take all of them away from me, sir. You can’t.
Akilah Hughes: What A Day is a production of Crooked Media.
Gideon Resnick: It’s recorded and mixed by Charlotte Landes.
Akilah Hughes: Sonia Htoon and Jazzi Marine are our associate producers.
Gideon Resnick: Our head writer is Jon Millstein, and our executive producers are Leo Duran, Akilah Hughes and me.
Akilah Hughes: Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.