The Sky is Falling | Crooked Media
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August 01, 2023
Pod Save The People
The Sky is Falling

In This Episode

DeRay, Myles, Kaya and De’Ara cover the underreported news of the week — misappropriation of taxpayer funds, Texas libraries converted to disciplinary centers, unengaged Democratic voters, and the life and legacy of Sinead O’ Connor.


DeRay Elizabeth Warren says the Pentagon’s health care system is the victim of price gouging — and it’s not doing enough to stop it.

Myles Life and Legacy of Sinead O’Connor

De’Ara Democrats worry their most loyal voters won’t turn out for Biden in 2024

Kaya Largest School District in Texas Eliminates Libraries, Converts Them to Disciplinary Centers






DeRay Mckesson, narrating: Hey, this is DeRay, and welcome to Pod Save the People. In this episode it is me, Kaya, Myles, and De’Ara talking about all the news that you don’t know from the last week that happened with regard to race, justice, and equity. And here we go. We are officially in the month of August and just three months until the November election. This week we talk about misappropriation of taxpayer funds, Texas libraries being converted to disciplinary centers. We’re talking about the unengaged Democratic voters and the life and legacy of Sinead O’Connor. Here we go. 


De’Ara Balenger: Welcome. Welcome to another episode of Pod Save the People. I am De’Ara Balenger. You can find me on Instagram at @dearabalenger. 


Myles E. Johnson: I’m Myles E. Johnson. You can find me on Instagram and X at @pharaohrapture


Kaya Henderson: The X child, woo I’m Kaya Henderson. And I guess you can find me on the X at @HendersonKaya. Oh, yikes. 


DeRay Mckesson: The fact that you call it the X is just–


Kaya Henderson: The X because– 


DeRay Mckesson: –great. 


Kaya Henderson: I’m a auntie, ’cause I’m an auntie and we are the– 


Myles E. Johnson: You already auntified it.


Kaya Henderson: The– 


DeRay Mckesson: I love it. 


Kaya Henderson: –in front of. [laughing]


DeRay Mckesson: This is DeRay at @deray on the app formerly known as Twitter. 


Kaya Henderson: Yes. [laugh]


De’Ara Balenger: Well, we’re just going to get into it. We’re going to start with old McDonald. Mitch McConnell. [laughter]


Myles E. Johnson: Mmm mmm. 


De’Ara Balenger: That’s mean. I’m sorry. That’s so mean and ageist. I’m so sorry. That is very mean. And I take it back and I hope he is okay. But I also think he needs to retire. Now I don’t know, maybe some of us missed it, but Mitch McConnell had an episode during a press conference where he froze. I think it was like 30 seconds. 


Kaya Henderson: It was more than that child. 


De’Ara Balenger: But also– 


Kaya Henderson: It seemed like forever. 


De’Ara Balenger: It seemed like forever. And also, no one was like, are you all right? Hello? 


Kaya Henderson: Oh, no. The man next to him. The other representative– 


De’Ara Balenger: I think it took a long time though. 


Kaya Henderson: It did take a while. But they were like uh Mitch is there something else you want to say? Uh Mitch is there [laugh] we were treating it like it was. It like nothing was happening. And this man was like, could have been having a whole stroke right in front of us. 


De’Ara Balenger: And then later on that day, you know, inter– press found him, he’s like, everything’s fine. I’m fine. 


Kaya Henderson: No he came back. They walked– 


De’Ara Balenger: Oh he came oh–


Kaya Henderson: –him off. They walked him off and apparently got him together after a while. And he came back, I guess, to show people that he was not, you know, well, whatever. And so that is what happened. And, DeRay, you had something to say. [laugh]


DeRay Mckesson: You know, as much grief as the people are giving Senator Feinstein. Who also seems to be phoning it in. 


Kaya Henderson: She got to go too. 


DeRay Mckesson: I will tell you. Mitch McConnell short circuited like the Matrix just stood there and just short circuited. And the Republicans literally acted like it was another day in America like la dee da having and they are freaked out about him stepping down because there’s a Democratic governor who might appoint a Democrat to replace him. I– 


De’Ara Balenger: Well, what if– 


DeRay Mckesson: Hopefully they– 


Kaya Henderson: No, no, wait. I learned this last night from a friend that the Republicans have have have have uh passed a law that says that if he steps down, he must be replaced by a Republican. Right. So I will I will look this up. But literally, we had a big conversation about this yesterday. So let me tell you what my petty self would do. I– 


DeRay Mckesson: I hope they get a Republican who defects. 


Kaya Henderson: No, I know why why do that? Why not call your friend De’Ara and say, hey, De’Ara, I know you’re a Democrat today. I’m gonna need you to switch parties tomorrow, become a Republican. 


DeRay Mckesson: I love it. 


Kaya Henderson: And then that way I can appoint you to Mitch McConnell’s seat, because that’s what the Republicans are giving. They giving petty, they giving sneaky– 


DeRay Mckesson: And that’s what they would do in a heartbeat. 


Kaya Henderson: That’s right. Meanwhile, we would go out and look for a moderate Republican and try to get him or her on our side and all of that, later for that, we street fighting. I would find my biggest Democratic person in the whole wide state of Kentucky and get them to change their affiliation. And then I would appoint them. That way I keep a uh uh I’m I’m following the rule and I’m getting what I want. Come on, let’s do it. 


Myles E. Johnson: Okay, so it’s street fighting, street fight. I do think that how everything was handled, from what I can see, it seems like that’s how you should do emergencies when that happens. As far as just so it’s like, not like um. Exciting everybody around and stuff and [?] kind of scary it was not kind of it was more like scary for me to watch. But um, you know, I can’t judge too much because I’ve been at many of jobs after many of late nights and just press pause in the middle of talking to a manager or somebody who I was managing. [laughin] My reason wasn’t age. It was, you know, brown liquor. But [laughter] I’ve been been many a times I’ve been at work and been like, oh, I the god just pressed pause on my um on my on my faculties. So no judgment over here, Mitch. Um. You know, just judge me for all the other heinous, evil things if you done, but not any for being old. 


De’Ara Balenger: DeRay is very, very concerned with the heat in Arizona, so I’m going to let him take it away. I my, my recommendation is for people to just stay inside. I don’t know why people are outside falling on the ground, But DeRay, what more can you tell us about the heat? 


DeRay Mckesson: Yeah. It’s hot y’all.


De’Ara Balenger: In in Arizona. 


DeRay Mckesson: It was so hot last week that people are being taken to the burn units in Arizona because of the heat. So on a hot day, uh the news reports that asphalt can be 40 to 60 degrees hotter than the air. But last Thursday, the air temperature was 119 degrees in Phoenix. And Phoenix had six days, six consecutive days at or above 115 degrees uh by Saturday, which is wild. And when they when they looked at the um the breakdown of who’s in the the burn centers, there’s this one center that said every single one of the 45 beds in the burn center is full. And one third of patients are people who fell and burned themselves on the ground. And then there are burn patients in the ICU. And about half of those people half of those patients are people who burned after falls. I just never even thought about people who are like, I just never thought that you would fall to the ground and be burned like that just like so bad that you go to a burn unit. So I  just wanted to say it as part of the intro because that was wild to me. 


Myles E. Johnson: No it’s it’s wild in the um. Just to add to that, the United Nation warns that the earth is now an um era of global boiling. 


Kaya Henderson: Yes. Global–


Myles E. Johnson: According to– 


Kaya Henderson: –boiling. 


Myles E. Johnson: According to CBS Evening News, which uh, you know, I guess explains some of the weird um fish activity that we’ve been seeing. The you know, there’s been more um shark attacks that I have been seeing, sharks going closer to the edge and just seeing odd things happening in uh with when it comes to marine life. And I think that that is a good explanation for it. 


Kaya Henderson: And the coral is dying because the the it’s too hot um and the coral reefs protect. I mean, we y’all it is the whole thing is imploding. Mother Earth is not just unhappy, angry because of what we’ve done. And it’s galling to watch people continue to pass legislation that’s detrimental to the climate, that’s detrimental to nature like we are. We did this and we’re not fixing it fast enough. And I’m deeply, deeply worried. I feel like, you know, whatever 20 years ago when when Al Gore was like, woop woop, global warming, people were like, ah yeah, 60 or 100 years from now. We are here. Like, we are feeling the effects right this second. And they’re accelerating at a pace that is much quicker than anybody ever thought. What are we going to do, y’all? 


Myles E. Johnson: And I love that like everybody says like 60 to 100 years from now, because I think that in people’s head, they thought in 60 years there will be a switch that turns on and then it will all start. It’s like no it’s 60 or 100 years there will have been so much done that there’ll be no reversing. But there’s going to be um lots of catastrophes that happen, you know, before that. And I think people are starting to really understand what’s really happening, because even July is the hottest month on record. 2023 July is the hottest month on record since we started recording temperatures. So this this past week, an amazing artist named, Sinead O’Connor, passed away. Sinead O’Connor, it’s really interesting because Sinead O’Connor was somebody who I knew like I think a lot of people knew just by their most controversial moments so Sinead O’Connor was one of those people who by the time I grew up, I knew her about I knew Nothing Compares To You. And then I also knew that she tore up the picture of the pope in front of everybody and got blacklisted but I really didn’t know anything deeper. In the last two years, there was a documentary released about Sinead O’Connor, and it really dug deep into, of course, her history, but also her lasting cultural effect that I didn’t necessarily appreciate until just being older and looking and reviewing her life. Sinead O’Connor has had mult– had multiple records specifically before the break through, Nothing Compares To You um and that kind of iconic moment we see ourselves in. And she was really forging this path of being seen as androgynous. She was forging this paths as or this path as being um doing things that were that we would name as queer or um or gender deviant or expansive at the time. And she the her blueprint in the in the and the mapping out, I’m able to do between Sinead O’Connor and the moments that we see now and then the conversations that we’re having now around gender, around um expectation, they’re just it’s just so clear that it’s shameful that I didn’t before, maybe two years ago before seeing the documentary, just really map it out. And then on top of that, also map out why she was so blacklisted when she did that with the um pope, not just because she did it with the Catholic Church, but also because she was already um transgressing these huge institutions in America that we call or really in the world that we call patriarchy and we call um heterosexuality. So for her to do an action like tearing up the picture of the pope was seen as even especially um offensive. She did it because of at the time the uh accusation. I didn’t want to call them rumors, the accusations of of uh sexual predation and that was happening around popes and she heard about that and she felt, if I’m going to be on SNL, then I’m going to tear this picture up and I’m going to make my time with SNL mean something instead of just selling somebody something and singing a pretty song and she did that and, you know, she got blacklisted. And years later, uh it it’s almost a rite of passage to make a pope and Catholic Church and little kids critique or or to bring that up. It’s it’s it’s so well known that it’s ridiculous. But she was the first one to really first pop star to really say something. I was really fascinated by this might bring you a little nostalgia when I say this name but Lily Allen. Who I do love. She has great music, but we haven’t really heard about her, heard about her in a long time. But she said something that I thought that was so interesting and my and my own opinions really aligned with it. She says it’s hard not to feel incensed when there are so many people posting about Sinead and how fearless she was. People who would never in a million years align themselves with anybody who stood for something or anything remotely remotely controversial to said. It’s so spineless. If you can’t stand up for people in life, don’t do it in death. And I think Lily’s right. There was so much of an outpour for Sinead O’Connor. But, you know, the South don’t forget. And I [laugh] and I remember I’m like, No, you were afraid of Sinead O’Connor. You were not talking to her. She’s not on your album and she’s not in your performances. And she wasn’t being recognized. But in death, even the most radical of minds and thoughts are safe because what they what can they not do in death? They can’t evolve and they can’t uh they can’t pick and poke and prod at things that are um that we’re trying to protect. So we’re okay with uh white and safe washing people in death. And it was wild to see that happen with Sinead O’Connor in real time, specifically because she’s, she’s had such a rough ride when it comes to media and standing up for herself, be it because of her gender um expression or because um of her political beliefs. Another fact about her that was really interesting to me that she did convert to Islam um uh later in her life, and that was the cause of a lot of peace and a lot of revelation with her and really expanded her music. I was listening to her later music and it’s um it’s it’s it’s it’s it’s it’s monk like it’s it’s it’s uh it’s spiritual. It’s. [hits mic] So it’s solemn. It’s just totally left from some of the early more rock singer songwriter stuff that I was listening to in the early nineties, and the late eighties from Sinead. And it’s really interesting to hear somebody evolve into something that sounds so big and intimate and spiritual from something that sounds so young, still intimate but rebellious and wanting to kind of penetrate the mainstream. It’s interesting to hear a artist totally evolve past that and kind of create this own their own sanctuary through sound. So I wanted to honor Sinead O’Connor, because I think she’s really interesting and she’s fascinating. But also I wanted to bring the conversation around what we do to radical minds after they pass away and and what can we do to keep the integrity of people’s legacies and their actual thought when they when they die? Once we know that the system has the ability to wash over people and flatten people in death into what it wants it to be. 


DeRay Mckesson: Sinead O’Connor is a great example of uh the importance and the just the consequence of being first. That she ripped that picture up in a time where that was literally blasphemous. It was like, people forget what we thought over here, but the people in her own country were like, you’ve lost it. And I read a great article about how, you know, decades later. People in her own country are like, yeah, the church was corr-, like the church did all these things that we no longer align with it. Yes, we should be more critical. Yes, you called it out and you are right. And we do not stand by you by you then. But we will stand today. And it reminds me of so many other truth tellers who in really hard moments like where like I know this is. I know, I know right and wrong. That’s not the question. The question is, can I endure the public not being on my side in this moment? And a lot of people say no. And shout out to Sinead O’Connor for just saying yes in that moment and not apologizing later, not flinching down, not covering up for the church because of the pressure and obviously the privilege. You know, there was a lot of privilege that allowed her to do that, but she lost a ton. And I will say, you know, for all the people going up for Sinead O’Connor, they need to be going up for the Dixie Chicks too who people hung out to dry when the Dixie Chicks were telling the truth about that president. And people were like, how dare you do that? Country music, da da da da da da. The Dixie Chicks were those girls. They were those. They were it. And they took a huge hit following their truth telling moment. And in history, I mean, we all knew they were right in the moment too but history has also proven them right. 


Kaya Henderson: I think what is interesting about Sinead O’Connor’s career is that um we fixate on this one particular moment in 1992 when she, you know, ripped up the picture of the pope on Saturday Night Live. But even before that, she stood up and she stood up for Black people at the most what could have been what was probably one of the most important moments of her career as a brand new artist she was invited to perform at the Grammys. She was 21 years old and hip hop artists were boycott– and other Black artists were boycotting the Grammys because they would not televise the rap and hip hop awards part of the Grammys. And so people like Public Enemy who had, you know, an amazing album that was being recognized, boycotted the Grammys, other people boycotted the Grammys. And Sinead O’Connor as a 21 year old, first time appearing on the Grammys, asked to sing, um went up, did the thing, put the Public Enemy sign had it emblazoned into her shaved head and stood up for hip hop at a time where, you know, other people were not standing up for hip hop. And so she’s been an ally of the Black community. [clears throat] She stood up for all kinds of issues. Um. And I read something that I thought was really interesting because I think we believe that um that the SNL moment was detrimental to her career. But I found a quote from her that says she she called it the rip heard round the world. And she says it defined her career in a beautiful effing way, but it was not derailing. People say, oh, you effed up your career, but they’re talking about the career they had in mind for me. I messed up the house [?] 


DeRay Mckesson: Preach. Come on, come on. 


Kaya Henderson: I messed up the house in Antigua that the record company dudes wanted to buy. I effed up their career, not mine. And so I think it’s a reminder to us– 


DeRay Mckesson: Come on. 


Kaya Henderson: That we get to live life on our own terms, not the terms that other people set for us. 


Kaya Henderson: Kaya came with the word, it’s Hallelujah. Come on, Come on, Kaya, let the people know. And the church said. 


De’Ara Balenger: Yes to everything y’all have said. And I just want to point out her now Muslim name, which is Shuhada Sadaqat. Um just so that we know that’s the name that she chose and the name that she has been living with as she once she converted to Islam. Um. This, her journey also reminds me of the journeys of like Billie Holiday and Nina Simone and Eartha like, there are so many women artists in particular who, because of their because of who they wanted to be and in their in their search for the evolution of that person, we’re sort of marginalized, right, for how they presented, how they wanted to sing, what they wanted to sing about. Um. Integrating activism into their their work and their art and seeing what’s happened to them. And so. You know, it’s just. It’s just. It’s. It’s. To me, it’s a sad thing to see is that is that. You know, you are really trying to define who you are, given where you’ve come from, and also trying to open up the aperture just a. How you’re seeing yourself and how you’re seeing your your politic and and being marginalized and cast aside while you’re doing that. Yes, it’s true. You know, her her career wasn’t what the industry thought it should be. But I just wonder in terms of, you know, torment and isolation, if those also come into play with you just going through the motions of trying to figure out who you are and also trying to bring others along with you as you figure that out. So was very you know was was sad to hear about her passing or her passing at such a young age. So young, 56, I think. So, you know, just want to honor her and who she was and what she ultimately did and tried to do even more for for the world. 


DeRay Mckesson, narrating: Don’t go anywhere. More Pod Save the People’s coming. 


[AD BREAK] [music break]


Kaya Henderson: My news this week uh comes out of Houston Independent School District. Y’all, I’m going to do my best to not, like, blow a gasket on this one, but and and and– 


DeRay Mckesson: Kaya I’ve been waiting to talk to you about this, so I’m like, so interested in how you cue this up. 


Kaya Henderson: And um and I went down the rabbit hole on this article um because there’s a headline, right? It’s the headline grabbing, you’ve seen the headline that HISD is firing librarians and converting libraries into disciplinary centers. Right. Which sounds absolutely bananas. It sounds tone deaf. It sounds wrong. It sounds whatever for all of the wrong or all of the reasons. And so I had to dig underneath here to figure out what is really going on. So what you need to understand about this before we start arguing the case on the merits is that um the Houston Independent School District has been taken over by the state, the Texas Education Agency. It’s the State Department of Education. And basically they’ve taken over HISD um on what is probably a slightly faulty premise. There is one school in the school district that has persistently been low performing and based on the performance of Phillis Wheatley High School, we all know what that means. Um. They that plus some other sort of flimflam issues um and ignoring the fact that there’s been a conservator, a state appointed conservator over the school district for the last how many ever years the state saw this opportunity to take over the school system. They appointed a man named Mike Miles, who um is currently serving as the superintendent over a portion of the district. And Mike Miles had been a superintendent in Dallas for three years, but resigned after scandal and turmoil and whatnot. A pretty unsuccessful run in Dallas that promised huge increases. There was a lot of disruption um and he promised huge increases in student outcomes that were not realized. And there was so much brouhaha that he ended up resigning um before that he’d been a successful superintendent in Harrison County, Colorado, where utilizing a set of tools that some of us have used, myself included, a focus on teacher evaluation, a focus on improving student achievement, these kinds of things. He was able to radically increase student outcomes in Colorado, but his district in Colorado was 1/10th the size of Dallas. He got to Dallas and he’s a military guy and sort of didn’t engage the community, made a number of just hard core decisions that pissed everybody off and ultimately ended up resigning. So, of course, when the Texas Education Agency decides to take over Houston, who do they call the dude who was not successful in Dallas and say, here you do this. And so he comes in again, raging. He has a uh this program called the New Education System, where, you know, what he’s trying to do is not crazy. He’s trying to focus on schools that are lower performing. He’s trying to pay teachers and principals. They are much more he’s trying to remove administrative tasks from these teachers and principals responsibility so that they can focus on teaching and learning. He’s trying to remove disruptive kids from the classroom, hence these team centers, which is what the libraries will now be called, where disruptive kids will be pulled out and they can video into their classrooms in order to not disrupt what’s happening in the traditional classrooms. Which is not the craziest thing in the world. It’s not may not be the smartest thing in the world, but it’s not the craziest thing in the world. All in service of increasing test scores for kids and focusing on reading, because that is the key, according to him. And you know, there are just so many problems about this. So, first of all, just on a general common sense thing, if you are really going to focus on improving reading outcomes, it seems like firing librarians and um and and turning libraries into discipline centers is not the right move. I will say all of that with the caveat that if you’re facing budget cuts, you’ve got to figure out what to cut. Sometimes things don’t make sense. So I’ll give him a little bit of grace. But at a moment where we are fighting against kids being um disproportionately disciplined at a time where we are fighting the prison industrial complex and the prisons, the school to prison pipeline at a time where libraries are under fire for banning books and whatnot. This is the move that you choose to make, as you [?] I mean, this dude was just hired in June. This is July. The first move that you make is firing a whole bunch of librarians and whatnot. Oh, and again, we know that these schools are going to be in the poorest communities and the most marginalized communities. My guess is the darkest communities. But the rest of the schools get to keep libraries and librarians. This is what we do to poor Black and Brown kids. We drill and kill. We focus just on student test scores. And in the meantime, the people in the upper and wealth, upper and wealthy class, upper class and wealthy neighborhoods, their kids are singing and swinging and getting merry like Christmas. They’re taking art and music and P.E. and foreign language and sports and doing all of the things while we are drilling and killing kids. That’s not the way to get student outcomes. What we did in D.C. public schools was we treated poor, Black and Brown kids like we treat wealthy white kids, give them art and music and PE, foreign language, send them on study abroad programs, inspire them, engage them, give them the technology, make their libraries robust. I mean, we rebuilt so many school libraries in DCPS because that’s the way to move student outcomes, not to come in there, with your militaristic we firing this people. We doing that we’re making discipline centers? It’s 2023. We just came through the end of a global pandemic. Our children are facing mental health issues, our teachers. You can’t find teachers and principals and you are going to antagonize these people in this way and think you going to have people who are coming to work excited to do the very best that they can for kids who need it the most? Come on, y’all. Where am I? [pause] Sorry. I told you I was going to do my best to keep from [?] out, but this just seems. I mean, I don’t I, I as a as a former superintendent, I respect Mike Miles and what he’s trying to do in Houston. And as a taxpaying American citizen who is looking at this from the outside, it feels like there is a that this is an unforced error, that this doesn’t make sense. And I actually feel like it’s incumbent upon the leaders in Houston. I mean, even the mayor was like, what the hell? I feel like it’s incumbent upon our leaders to explain what they’re doing, why they are doing it, and for the community to have healthy debate about whether they think this is the right way to get to, we might all agree on the destination that we’re going to, which is improve student outcomes. But the community has power. Parents have power. The community has a role to play in dictating how their kids get to the outcomes. The community has to co-create solutions with schools and school districts, and we have forgotten. Our parents have forgotten that they have power. Our leaders have forgotten that parents have power. And so if I’m in Houston, I am rallying up every parent that I know to show up at the school board meeting to say, this is not how we are going to treat our children. Okay, I must stop. I promised whew. 


DeRay Mckesson: So two things come to mind. One is, you know, obviously I’m an organizer, run Campaign Zero. And sometimes people will say, you guys have [?] they’re like, what does this have to do with da da da? Because, you know, we do we obviously focus on some front end policing stuff, traffic stops, jails, stuff like that. And I’m always reminded that in the end, it always comes back to a carceral solution. That the chal– like Houston wasn’t like, let’s figure out literacy, da da da da da and build new libraries. Like Kaya said it was, let’s figure out literacy and let’s figure out something that is a detention facility, but we’ll call it something else. And it won’t look like a jail or prison, but it’ll feel like one. Just, quote, “age appropriate.” That is always the when people get into a bind when trying to think about solutions for Black and Brown people, the carceral solution is just the default. So I say that to like remind us. So I will tell you, when I saw this story, I thought it was The Onion. I was like, [laughter] ha! good story. I was like, got me. This was a good one. Like The Onion had a really good article on Mitch McConnell, and it was like Mitch McConnell um freezes when somebody confronts him with free Black people. And I was like, That was good. That was a really good one. And I thought this was an I thought this was a um I thought this was an Onion article. The second thing I’ll say and one of my best friends, Donnie, said, we talked about this over the weekend, and he was like, what I think this is is the is trying to figure out, the right is trying to is using this as a test case to how to take over institutions in blue cities in red states. And that this is the model for the takeover. So you get a red state, but you get a really blue place that you’ll never win an election in. It’s just like you can’t do it. But you start taking over the public institutions and radically changing the way people interact with the like dismantle public system like you won’t, the city council won’t undo the school system they won’t, but you don’t need the city council for the state takeover. You just take it over at the state level. And he was like, what this feels like is the beginning of a playbook for how to politically target blue cities in red states. And I was like, I’ll give you that. That is a maniacal and brilliant thing. And like Kaya said– 


Kaya Henderson: And totally probable. Totally probable. 


DeRay Mckesson: Yes. Totally probable. And um I’ll just echo what Kaya said is that, like, organizing works every protection you can probably think of that you have in this world came from organizers. So, you know, I think about things like seatbelts which people take for granted and you’re like, the government didn’t care about no seatbelts. Organizers did that. You know, like I was reading something about private, you know, there was this conversation about the pools in Baltimore and, you know, people somebody some white right wing person tweeted, you know, now everybody’s talking about public pools. That’s going to be the next entitlement. That was literally a tweet. And somebody reminded them that, remember that private pools weren’t even a thing until desegregation, like they were all public, until Black people started going to pools and white people were like we need our own. So it always comes back to race. 


De’Ara Balenger: [sigh] I just it’s hard for me to wrap my mind around taking books out the school. Because it’s a school. They’re supposed to have books. So I just feel like [laugh] at a very, at the most cursory level, it’s just like, I just don’t understand the logic. But when the logic is to DeRay’s point, um you know, trying to creep into cities to do maniacal things, to take over institutions, etc., etc., then it all makes sense. Um. And I think it’s also just it it is racism. It is racism in terms of they don’t think our kids need books. They don’t. Um. And so it’s wild, I was in Montgomery, Alabama, this weekend with family and my mom and I just because every time I’m in Montgomery, it’s like my ritual. I go. I go down and see the Rosa Parks statue. And my mom and I just sat there for a minute and one of the my mom, it just came to her. She was like, you know, folks are really trying to undo everything. And I was like, you ain’t lying because we’re standing here next to this Rosa Parks memorial. We are steps away from where enslaved people were bought and sold. It’s just wild. It’s wild. It’s wild what is happening in this country. And it’s even wilder that it’s happening right under our noses um and happening at a rate that I think is actually hard for organizers to keep up with. 


Myles E. Johnson: You know what I will say, um because I think DeRay and Auntie Kaya are such experts in this field. So I, you know, wouldn’t add anything to what you all are saying. So ed– it’s just so educating. But what I will say is that it’s always just so disturbing to me when what they decide to build reminds us so much of like prison systems. And it just make, to me makes you get used to at an earlier age um interacting with the prison system and those in the little ways that the little new initiatives and the discipline centers and the even though it’s not that big a steal and it does make sense and specifically in areas of like school shootings and etc., it’s sad that we need stuff like um like cameras or even um metal detectors and stuff like that. But that just doesn’t change the fact that the more the metal detectors and cameras and ugly beige walls on concrete, we we [laugh] we we do, the more that we we are going to make somebody not really know the difference between kindergarten and prison and and going to get help in the hospital. And the more we blur these walls, the more people are going to be comfortable with giving up their freedoms and with oppression because it won’t it will feel familiar. They were trained for it. So that’s the thing that disturbed me. I would say the most of that I have enough disturbed energy in me for everything. 


Kaya Henderson: I just want to add another thing, because it’s not just the kids who are affected by this. As part of this new education system, they will produce pre-made lesson plans for teachers. So teachers are losing their autonomy around what they can teach. There are going to be cameras in classrooms for quote unquote, “disciplinary purposes.” So it’s not just carceral in the new team centers, in the classrooms we’re now going to be monitoring students and teachers for disciplinary purposes, um and there’s going to be a greater emphasis on testing based performance evaluation. So this this is this is not just destabilizing at the library level or at the kid level. This is a whole sort of destabilizing program that I think um I am committed to keeping my eye on and continuing to report about as we watch this thing roll out, because I think it does have implications for how things will go in other states. 


DeRay Mckesson: Love it. Come on. 


DeRay Mckesson, narrating: Hey! You’re listening to Pod Save the People. Don’t go anywhere. There’s more to come. 




[music break]


De’Ara Balenger: This is also really amazing context for my article, which is about the Democrats being nervous about the Black vote, because these are issues that– 


Kaya Henderson: Come on! 


De’Ara Balenger: –if we would articulate and would make national Black people would be like, Oh, now I see the connection between my vote and what is happening in my community. But because Black folks are the last people on the list, Black men in particular, to get any engagement when it comes around voter engagement like this is this is where we are. So, surprise, surprise, The Washington Post is reporting, you know, Black pollsters, Black organizers are very, very nervous about what about the turnout of or lack of turnout for Black men. So in the midterms, we saw a big drop in turnout um for Black men voters in particular. Um. And so as we approach this presidential, folks are like putting up every color flag to try to get the attention of the Democratic Party, to say, listen, you need to put some focus on this area. Um. And key states like Georgia, for example, where, you know, Georgia is because of Stacey Abrams. Thank you, Stacey, We love you. Because of Stacey has been becoming more and more of an important swing state for a presidential election. What are we doing here Democratic Party? What’s happening in places like Georgia? This article is saying it’s become, Black turnout has become a focus of Democratic leaders. Um. And, you know, and the focus it’s particularly on Georgia, Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania. And those are states that Trump won in ’16. Um. And folks like W Mondale. Robinson he’s a founder of Black Male Voter Project. He shared this dire assessment of Democrats potential turnout problems with Black men as we move forward. And he said many Black men are sporadic or nonvoters, meaning they are registered but have voted in one or none of the past three presidential elections. He said that Democrats spend far too much time focus on come on now, spend too much time focus on converting conservative leaning white women. Spend too much time focus on converting conservative leaning white women in the suburbs who they see as swing voters, then investing in turning out Black men. And now don’t get me started on Black women, because they don’t do nothing to turn us. They don’t do nothing. We vote 96% every single time for these fools and get nothing in return. But I guess since we have a Supreme Court Justice Ketaji, who guess what everybody? Is just an esteemed, accomplished person who should just be a goddamn Supreme Court justice no matter what color she is. We supposed to do cartwheels because she happens to be a Black woman. Get out my face. I can’t. I can’t. I cannot. And we. And the VP is a Black woman, so we’re I guess that’s checks the box for Black women. We’re done with y’all. You’re dying out here having babies, but no, no, never mind. Just make sure you vote. [laugh] So all in all, go ahead. Um. No, all in all, I just you know, this article goes on. It’s much of the same. Just saying, like we you know, it it is dire. There’s been as far as I can tell from this article. And just generally, there’s been no plan on engagement for Black people. Um. Uh. Cedric Richmond is here and he is a senior advisor now for um for the Democratic Party. And his suggestion or his his push is to meet Black men where they are. I don’t I don’t know what that expression means anymore. What does that even mean? Let’s meet them where they are like okay. No. 


Myles E. Johnson: [?] 


De’Ara Balenger: Let’s just [laugh]– 


Myles E. Johnson: And it’s so coded with racism. 


DeRay Mckesson: Wait this is the [?] I don’t even want to comment. This isn’t my comment yet. Uh. But this is the the fact that uh De’Ara calls Ketanji, Ketaji [laughter] is so Black to me. It’s like you know when that cousin, you just that call them the wrong thing your whole life. 


Myles E. Johnson: Yes. 


De’Ara Balenger: And everybody know who you talking about and De’Ara said it with her whole chest you know, just she’s like just because Ketaji is a is a a [?]. 


Myles E. Johnson: Yeah. 


DeRay Mckesson: I’m like who is Ketaji? [laughter] I love it De’Ara, keep it going. Ketaji, we with you. 


De’Ara Balenger: Listen. 


DeRay Mckesson: Okay Myles sorry. 


De’Ara Balenger: 100% sis. Um. Terrance Woodbury, who I have to name, who is a friend and brilliant he’s runs Hit Strategy, which is a polling firm focused on young nonwhite voters. Evidently, I love Terrance, has been shopping around a PowerPoint presentation to liberal groups warning of the need to act soon to convince Black voters um that they have benefited benefited from Biden’s time in office. So the fact that somebody outside of this administration is having to advocate with liberal groups and within the Democratic Party to pay attention to what is happening really rocks my world. So. You know, obviously these elections are going to come, the presidential election is going to come up. We are going to cover it like nobody’s business. But I know what’s going to happen. No one’s going to like there’s going to be no real push or no real effort. To engage the Black vote. And about six weeks before Election Day. It’s going to be a craze, can everybody do all that they can to bring people out? I hope that’s not the hope. I hope that’s not the what happens. But I’ve just seen it election after election after election after election. And for those who are not focused on this in the Democratic Party and in this election, in doing so is not unconscious bias. It is pure racism. It’s racism. If you’re not focused on this, if you don’t see this as important, that is racist. That’s what I have for the pod.


Myles E. Johnson: So upsetting because as everybody knows, because I am the political [laugh] the political savant, [laugh] and I am. I’ve been on this podcast approximately 50 11 years now warning of conser– of black conservatism, y’all. And like, you know, you know, a circus is coming to town when you first get their clowns. And I was like, these Candace Owens clowns are warning that there are there are all types of other coming attractions of the in the Black conservative [?] Black in and Black conservatism coming to us. And this is this story that you brought De’Ara is particularly frustrating because not only are Democrats going to lose Black votes and not only are or and that’s going to be a struggle, but also there are waves. Huge waves, deep submersible waves of Black people who are being converted to conservatism. And I and I don’t know quite why nobody is seeing what this story that you’re telling De’Ara. I think this is a narrative that a lot of people know about and are frustrated with and are thinking about. But I just don’t see the other thing getting, getting taken getting taken seriously. And I think it’s going to take an election where you have Candace Owens and Killer Mike and um and a and and maybe Kanye West or maybe like everybody who’s a Black conservatism, who’s all the all the Black conservative clowns talking at one time, and then also other Black conservatives that you can take a little bit more seriously because they might of like, you know, read a book. So they they just are able to articulate themselves more seriously. So. So all those things combined, I’m just. I’m I’m I’m a little fearful and I’m you know, I’m not a fearful person. Even when things are are bleak and I’m not I’m not naturally fearful. But it’s extremely, extremely scary. And I think that because of the the inter– the the the intersections that I live at specifically. Um queer, trans, Black. Um. Auntie. [laugh] All those are my intersections. I’m able to see all the perfect uh recipe for there being in like the next ten years, some some huge just like some huge disasters. When it comes to who Black people are known to vote for, um what Black people are guaranteeing. Cause I think that’s a huge part of it too De’Ara. I think that so long people just guarantee the Black vote. So let’s go to these white women who are not going to change their minds because no matter what those white women say, they care more about peace at home with their racist husband than they do about you. And yo, let’s save a let’s save a country um speech. They do not care. That is the secret. It’s not converting. It’s not a program. It’s not um appealing to their intellect. They are smart. They know they’re aware. They do not care. They’re going to make apple pies and they’re going to make sure that your uh that that you continue to uh be oppressed. That’s what they’re going to do, do with their time. So in the meantime, some people who can actually be seduced back into their right mind are some of these Black conservative people. But they’re they’re just just slipping, just slipping the incel community. Oh, I can go forever. [laugh] The Incel community, these little conservative Black Internet things that Black men are going towards, Black men are getting have conservative ideals. They’re finding um other Black men who are leaders like the like the late and disgraced Kevin Samuel. They’re finding him. They’re calling themselves they’re saying Black women don’t like them. They’re saying LGBT people are um disgusting. They’re saying nobody loves them because they don’t make enough money. And they’re finding not only community in that. So they can still come through that. But they’re also finding political identity. So if they want this community, you also have to vote red. You want this community, you also to be transphobic. You want this community. You also pretty soon, I don’t want to be the bearer of [?] news. Also, you have to kill also you have to terrorize, also you have to prove how much in the real world you like it. And we’re not paying attention. And by the time we are paying attention and it’s and it’s on The View and we’re all talking about it. And it’s the new hot topic, it’s going to be so ridiculous that we’re just going to be able to we’re we’re only going to be able to marvel at the new Black conservatism, not be able to transform it. 


DeRay Mckesson: [sound of agreement] You uh you preach, preacher, preach. Everybody preaching today. So what I’ll say is um. Is I am both worried. I also am mindful that the first step of all organizing is storytelling. And on the left sometimes we just become bad storytellers, that we don’t tell stories that people hear that people have time to understand. We talk in documentary, not in TMZ people. People communicate in TMZ. They don’t communicate in documentary day to day. And the left communicates so often in documentary in a way that I think really um binds us up. But the macro thing I’ll say is I’ve been thinking about this recently, like, what does it mean? Because there are a lot of elected officials recently whose bodies are Black but who’s politics are not. And I’ve been trying to give language to that. And one of the things I realized with the Black conservatives, are the people who agree with us on some things but don’t agree with us on some big things who are Black. You know, what I realized is that there are a set of Black people who legitimately do not understand. I’m not even going to say they don’t believe because I just think they don’t understand right now. They don’t understand systemic racism. They literally are like, the system is not racist. People might be racist. And like if you don’t think the system’s racist, then you literally are then what you think is a solution is just a whole different thing. If you don’t think the system [?] outcomes, then you really do think that a set of people did things that led to these like Black people, poor people did things that made them poor and da da da. And that really is just like a whole different way to be in the world. And what I found time and time again, it’s never proved me wrong is that Black people specifically, but mostly people of color. Uh. They don’t some the people who believe this don’t really get it until they are confronted with the racism of a system. And then they’re like, Ooh, this is bad. And you’re like, Yes. You’re like, Yeah, that is yeah. You went to the hospital and they denied you painkillers because you were Black. You thought that was some issue you saw on TV, but then you dealt with it and you were like, oh, this is some real [?] and it’s like, yes. So, I you know, some of my organizing work has I have found it really important to help people understand and and like, see what racist systems look like so they understand what flows from it. 


Kaya Henderson: I thought that this was interesting. Um. One, I just think sounding the alarm at that if you don’t focus on Black people, Democrats literally cannot win. I think we have to remind people of that over and over, because as many of my colleagues have said, we’re taken for granted in the electoral process. Of course we’re going to vote for the Democratic Party. But I think what the Democratic Party is now understanding is we have another choice, right? It’s not it’s not Democrat or Republican. It is don’t vote. And enough people are exercising their power in that way to show their dissatisfaction with the Democratic Party that um somebody here. Thank you uh Colby Itkowitz and Sabrina Rodriguez and Michael Scherer. Thank you for pointing out and reminding people that you cannot take the Black vote for granted. The thing that like, I moved immediately to a place of action in my mind here. And it is it really it reminded me of the conversation that we keep having whenever we find some pretty cool Biden policy that has been enacted that we didn’t know about, that nobody knew about. And so we bring it to the pod because we think it’s important and we lament the fact that the Biden administration is not talking about what it has done for people. And what was most striking to me in this article as they talked about, how do you get Black people? They’re like look Black people want the same thing that everybody else wants. We want to live in safe communities. We want to put a roof over our heads for our families. We want jobs. You know, we want good schools. That’s what we want. And there’s nobody who is out here sort of saying, here’s how the Biden administration has helped to achieve those goals or gotten you closer to those goals. And so to your storytelling point, DeRay, this to me um was a huge reminder that what the work that we have to do is we got to go out here and help people understand what has already been accomplished that accrues to them. Um. At some point in the article, somebody somewhere said, You have to give people something to vote for, not just something to vote against. And it made me think to myself about how we might be participatory in helping people see. I mean, we have a huge audience of Black people, of white people, of Asian people, of Latino people, all kinds of people, pink, purple, spotted people. And we have an opportunity to help uplift some of the things that people might not know are happening. We do that sporadically, but it made me think that I need to be more committed to helping an administration that can’t seem to help itself. But to figure out what are the things that are improving our lives that have happened because of this administration and how do we use our platforms, the podcast, our socials to help tell the story about how our lives are changing for the better if they actually are. Because that’s what people need to hear. And I want to be part of the solution. Uh oh, I’m about to get it. I’m about to get it.


Myles E. Johnson: No, you’re not. [laughter] [clapping] No, you’re not. I just wanted. I just wanted. I just wanted. I just want to make sure that that’s the solution, because in my head, I’m thinking, well, sure, you could do that. But couldn’t you also just do things that show up in people’s lives materially. So they just know? The weird. The weird, the weird, though and I hate to say this, I don’t hate to say it. It’s just it’s just it is what it is. The funny thing is that although most of my Black friends who like of of all different types of class experiences will all joke and talk about how horrible Trump is. But the one thing that they will say talk about is that Trump check that came during the pandemic. There was like a material thing that a lot of people had and because I live where I live. Because I live in New York City. There were so many people who actually were doing better economically during that time then than not. So their reminders of Trump are somebody who had them go in the house and gave them $600-$800 a week. Right. So so or that’s one of the one of the things and I think that sure Democrats have done a lot a lot for people in these um in  these four years. And there’s ways that we can tell, tell those stories and make sure people are aware of them. But I also think Democrats have to do better about doing things that really punch people in the stomach with goodness. And I think that that is just missing. And I think there’s no– 


Kaya Henderson: Wait wait I hear you. 


Myles E. Johnson: Um. 


Kaya Henderson: But I want to give you one back. 


Myles E. Johnson: Yes. 


Kaya Henderson: I want to give you one back. We are fussing and fighting about student loans. And the Supreme Court went back on the blah, blah, blah. Biden has been relentless in pursuing student debt relief. And I know a ton of people who many of whom are in the education space, work for nonprofits, are doing the people’s work who have literally gotten $40,000, $50,000, $100,000 worth of loans forgiven in the last couple of years. That is a punch in the stomach that changes people’s financial game materially. And many of these people are organizers and they are, you know, whatever. And they’re not telling the story about how they are able to be in a different place because of things like student debt relief and student debt forgiveness. And so I do think that, yup, Trump handed people some checks, but the Democrats have actually changed people’s credit scores. They have removed this burden that now allows you to buy a house and do all kinds of other things. People are out here doing the things because they are no longer crippled under student debt. And so I think it’s important for us to lift those stories as well. 


DeRay Mckesson: And well the only thing I’d also say is that I think that Trump was really good at like beating you with a stick with one hand and then giving you cake with the other. So he– 


Kaya Henderson: Cake baby cake. 


DeRay Mckesson: He is. And it’s like important to call it cake and not like a nutritious meal. Right? Because he you’re going to die soon from that sugar overload and all those calories. You’re going to get diabetes and you gonna be out of here, but you will be happy in the moment. And it’s like he is banning whole sets of immigrants and Black community and Black countries from coming to. I mean, he’s killing people at the border. It’s it is literally a nightmare in almost everything else he’s doing. And and you remember, he could have sent every single person in the country masks on day one, but thought it would be bad PR so didn’t so so many more people died. He introduced remember when he told people that sunshine killed COVID? I’ll never forget that. And that drinking bleach was a solution. 


Kaya Henderson: Bleach. [laugh of shock] Come on. 


DeRay Mckesson: That he said that. That’s crazy. And then he gave people a little bit of money and it’s like that is when we just– 


Kaya Henderson: And took and we took those checks to the Lenox Mall and bought Louis Vuitton bags. But don’t get me started. 


DeRay Mckesson: Okay Auntie Kaya. [?]


De’Ara Balenger: I think I just want to jump in because I think my push is just from somebody who’s worked on or been aligned with presidential campaigns. Like DeRay, even when we had to, like when we were working with organizers during Hillary’s campaign. Organizers, BLM, it was advocacy from Black people within the campaign that pushed that, right? So I guess what this is why this gets me so riled up is because everything you all are saying is right in terms of we need better storytelling, we need the Democrats to do this. We need them to do that. But structurally, when we are running these campaigns and we are, there this campaign’s going to raise over a billion dollars. What? What of that? What of that? Where are we in the prioritization of that election? Right. Who who are we going to hire? Who is this campaign going to hire? What is that outreach to Black communities going to look like? Are we going to pay Black advertisers? Are we like there are so many things that go into the actual mechanics of doing Black voter engagement, doing voter engagement, anything. And I think what this article signals to me is that we have yet. With this election coming up, we have this this this administration, this campaign, etc., has yet to figure out what its positioning is going to be. 


Myles E. Johnson: I just think if the positioning was just less less maybe less contrived and more direct. It will be better. And I did and I really loved the cake analogy, but it’s hard for me to like think about the legacy of Black people and the legacy of Black people’s political engagement uh in this world. And I think that we’ve been eating our vegetables and eating everything correctly for years upon years we’ve been doing it the system way. We’ve been waiting for the bigger wins. We’ve been compromising or whatever. I’m like, No Black people. Let, we need some cake. We need some we need some cake, we need something materially affected now that happens, even the idea around the college, um the college idea, that’s still an extremely classed issue. Black people, when it comes to college, even though Black women are going to school at higher rates and all this other stuff, that the opposite is true for Black men. The opposite is um is is is true for um a lot of Black LGBT people. So even when you concentrate on something like college and when you concentrate on something like school, you will still realize that you’re still privileging a classed race of people who will not be moved by what you have to do. I didn’t go I that, that is my even my personal experience. I did not go to college. So if I’m being really honest, a lot of times that does not necessarily move me. Would I still vote would I still do certain you know things because it’s the right thing to do, of course. But if I’m being real with myself, I’m like, no, if I just didn’t care, and I didn’t, if I wasn’t friends with you all and I didn’t write and read about what I write and read about, I wouldn’t care because it doesn’t affect me and it actually doesn’t affect so many Black people. And sometimes because we are so brilliant and so excellent and and and so and but sometimes we can also be in a little bit of a bubble and forget that, oh, probably some of the reasons why this outreach is not working, because who you’re outreaching to are people who are already in a class bubble or people who are already in um a cul– in a culture bubble because they do exist in the Black community too, and you’re not really touching the people who you really need to get it, who really need to be uh uh galvanized, activated to go to the polls. And that’s why you’re seeing people this is why you’re seeing this this, this weird, this weird cycle. So, yeah, I just think that more. I think the college stuff is great, but I think it just needs to be more and I think it needs to be something like I said, in the earlier parts of when I first got on the podcast, I want somebody who’s poor, who’s done something bad to still be able to want, be activated. If you’re not really waiting for somebody who’s who’s done something bad and who’s poor and who who doesn’t have a college degree, if they if they have not been touched by Biden because they didn’t do something right, then you’re not touching the Black community because most Black people in the community have not had those experiences, just numerically, just numerically. And it’s sad. And maybe we want every Black person in the country to go to school. But right now, that’s not what’s happening. We still got 900 missing kids in certain places who haven’t been back to high school and middle school. It’s if you’re doing something going through the education system and may never touch the Black people you want to touch or who you want to galvanize. 


De’Ara Balenger: And Myles, I think that this this is the sol– where the solution is going to live. In actually engaging the diversity of Black people and saying, what are the stories that are going to resonate? What is what are the the deeper and more innovative questions we need to be asking? Right. Because it’s the same pollsters. It’s the same the same consultants that are going to be doing the same storytelling. And it’s how do you get to how do you get to the root of it and how do you get to the different roots of it, of what of what’s going to resonate with this community? And I think that’s that is also where a lot of the work needs to be done and they’re going to have the money to do it. And the other thing I’ll say is no one and I mean no one has said, hmm, maybe do you think since Black women come out in the ways they come out, we actually should get some data and some research on why? 


Kaya Henderson: Myles, I think your point is absolutely fair. And I pulled the one example that I know about, which just underscores the point that I think we’re all making, which is we don’t know. There might be something that speaks to a poor Black person who has done something terrible that now they can actually do something. We don’t know what those things are. And so it is incumbent upon the administration to tell those stories, to arm people who are allies and organizers with those stories so that we can help bridge the translation gap between what they are not doing and what is it going to take for Black people to come out and vote. 


Myles E. Johnson: I just don’t think that the Democratic Party cares. Once the vote happens and I think just like what De’Ara was saying about, oh, nobody’s done the study because the vote already happened. And I think that I just can’t imagine if all of us can be on this podcast. And then also if other people I just couldn’t imagine that we just don’t know what that is. I just think that nobody is caring. And now this is a situation where people have to care about it. [?] There’s brilliant enough minds that something could have popped up. I, I feel like. 


DeRay Mckesson: So I would say like I don’t, I’m not convinced that people don’t care. I do think that what um, what De’Ara said is true in the sense that it’s the same people in the rooms all the time. It is the same people. And I think the question becomes, well, how are they diagnosing the problem? I think the people in those rooms are blaming Black people for not voting, as opposed to taking responsibility for themselves, for not being good at executing a strategy that makes sense. And I do think I’ve been in those rooms. I remember when I was on the DNC transition committee and there was a Black woman who I know who De’Ara you probably know, too, who who’s been in Democratic circles forever. And she tried to argue me down that the Democratic Party was talking to organizers effectively. And I was like, girl, literally, I just got to your [?] yesterday. They are not talking to us. And she was like, I’ve been doing this for 15 years. And you’re like, okay, I’m actually not interested in fighting you. But again, instead of taking any responsibility for the outcome, she was blaming Black people and you’re like, that’s a losing, okay. But to my news, uh it is about let me start at the end with there’s always money. Because Lord knows the government is wasting it on stuff that don’t matter. So Senator Warren, who we love shout out to Elizabeth Warren. [sound of dogs barking in background] Was calling out uh that waste that happens in the Pentagon. So remember that one of the single biggest [?] items in Federal government is the Pentagon, national Defense bill. [dogs continue barking very loudly] Uh we spent $886 billion dollars per year to the Pentagon. And what she– [Kaya yells to dogs in background] is calling out was– 


Kaya Henderson: Stop! 


DeRay Mckesson: –overspending. [dogs continue barking] So Biden is requesting another $55 billion dollars to go to the military health system, and more than half of that goes to the private sector. And there was a hearing about this in uh Warren called out some numbers. So she called out numbers that that agency has overpaid $16 million dollars for electric breast pumps, overpaid $3 million dollars for HPV vaccines. It paid $5,284 for uh a implantable contraception device that costs regularly about $1000 through Medicaid. It paid $743,000 for a vaccine that go for $200. It paid $1800 dollars for um another vaccine that goes for $120. And she’s just highlighting that like the money is there. If we wanted to fund social programs, if we wanted to fund the entitlement programs, food stamps, whatever. If we want to do right by all people, the money is there and we are literally wasting it in things like the government, the military spending program, because that goes to big, big company contractors, often the friends of elected officials. And I just wanted to remind everybody that the money is there. So when the federal government tells you we ain’t got no money, the money is there, and it is often being wasted on things that don’t benefit the majority of the country and certainly not the people doing the least well. 


Kaya Henderson: Uh. I don’t have much to say about this. [laugh] The numbers are absolutely staggering. Like, I don’t I don’t even know what to do with this. Like, the numbers are absolutely staggering. Um. It does remind me about um about the government’s role, Congress’s role as an oversight body. So we think about Congress as the people who make laws, but they also their job is to check up on things and see how things are going. And so shout out to um shout out to Elizabeth Warren for surfacing this. Um. I feel like the Republicans are overaggressive on oversight and and I think um it’s great to see Democrats asking hard questions and holding people to account um the overspending, it just I mean, when you think about how much of a difference a little bit of money can make for people to watch these overspending things, it’s just like it makes you want to vomit. I literally do not even know what to do with this. But um but now we know and you can’t do anything about it until you know. 


Myles E. Johnson: Yeah, nothing super um like heavy to add, but it just also just proves that there’s just like a carelessness to how federal money is spent. [laugh] Because I just look at like these numbers and I’m like, well this was my money you know 1500 to 125 is a huge jump. So let me make sure um, you know, looking at these right. But there’s um it’s just to me, this feels like proof that there’s a culture of carelessness that like that, that this is even like like coming up in that there are people aren’t necessarily thinking the most strategic about how to make sure this like dollar goes longer. I don’t know why I feel like I’m talking about like going to a grocery store when I’m talking about this story. So it’s like, hard for that’s the only way I’m able to I imagine it. But I’m just like, No, let how do we make sure that as much things and as much people are helped or many positive things are funded as possible, and it’s just interesting to me that it just seems like so many other people are just clicking a button or laundering or do or or or having are in bed with people who, even if it’s more expensive, this is the company that it wants to go to. This is a, I’m saying this with a question mark because I’m y’all are my [laugh] I’m glad I’m like, that’s the only other way reason I can think of to for for these big discrepancies. It’s like, oh, no, this was actually, you know, designed to be like this for this person to get or this company to get this much money or this initiative to get this much money. Am I making sense? 


De’Ara Balenger: You’re making yeah. 


Myles E. Johnson: Because if something’s 1500, if something’s 1500 dollars, [laugh[ and then you pay $1500 when  it could be 125. I’m thinking uh the company that’s paying me $1500, you’re in bed with it. 


De’Ara Balenger: Well, it’s also when you think of so the Pentagon policy bill that they’re debating right now is $886 billion. So– 


Myles E. Johnson: Jesus. 


De’Ara Balenger: Your budget is $886 billion. At that point, it’s like [?]. 


Myles E. Johnson: No, it’s not.


De’Ara Balenger: It’s like Jeff Bezos money. It’s like, whatever. 


Myles E. Johnson: No, it’s not, because we got about the same amount of people. So that means everybody need a dollar. [laughter]


De’Ara Balenger: Well and I also I also wonder, like, how many countries actually just operate with just far less than that, just as their their budget like it is 886 billion. [music break]


DeRay Mckesson, narrating: Well, that’s it. Thanks so much for tuning in to Pod Save the People this week. Tell your friends to check it out and make sure you rate it wherever you get your podcasts. Whether it’s Apple podcasts or somewhere else. And we’ll see you next week. Pod Save the People is a production of Crooked Media. It’s produced by AJ Moultrié and mixed by Evan Sutton. Executive produced by me and special thanks to our weekly contributors. Kaya Henderson, De’Ara Balenger, and Myles E. Johnson. 


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