In This Episode
DeRay, Brittany and Sam are LIVE from San Francisco with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, San Francisco Mayor London Breed and Katherine Maher, the executive director of the Wikimedia Foundation.
- NBC News: California Gov. Gavin Newsom plans to halt the death penalty
- San Francisco Chronicle: Criminal justice system fees for 21,000 waived
- Nancy Pelosi
- Wikimedia Foundation
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Brittany: Hey everyone. I’m Brittany Packnett, @MsPackyetti on all social media.
Sam: Hey. And I’m Sam Sinyangwe, @samswey on Twitter.
Brittany: Whoop, whoop, whoop, whoop!
DeRay: I’m DeRay, @deray on Twitter, and we have a message from Clint.
Clint: What’s goin’ on, y’all? This is Clint. So sorry I can’t be there tonight. Our daughter is four weeks old, so I’m still on paternity leave, holdin’ it down on the home front. She is doing wonderful, she is healthy. Mom and baby are doing well. Our baby likes to sleep a lot during the day, not so much at night, so we are very sleepy, but very grateful. And I can’t wait to listen to the show, so sorry I can’t be there. You have some incredible guests coming up. Shout out to DeRay, Brittany, Sam. Love y’all. Wish I could be there. Have a great show! It’s gonna be awesome.
Brittany: Who knew? Who knew babies don’t like to sleep on our schedule? We definitely miss Clint, but we’re so excited to be here with you all. You know, before we get started, there are a couple of things that have been happening in the news that I think are really important to talk about. Show of hands, though, I just wanna take a poll, and I think I can see the folks in the back, how many of y’all have $500,000.00 sittin’ around to get your kids into school? Nobody?
Brittany: It is San Francisco, y’all might have the money.
DeRay: Yeah, it’s San Francisco.
DeRay: At least a little bit of y’all have it.
Brittany: I know how expensive it is to live here, okay?
Brittany: No? Nobody? ‘Cause Aunt Becky had the money, apparently. I wanna know exactly what those residual checks from Full House are lookin’ like, ’cause I didn’t even know Aunt Becky had it like that. But $500,000.00 to get your child into a school that accepts half the people, fascinating.
DeRay: It was just … There were so many things wrong with this. Not only the inequities and the injustice, but just the plain stupidity about the whole thing.
DeRay: Because there were plenty of legal ways in which they could exert their privilege to get their kids into school, but instead, they decided-
Brittany: Buy a building like everybody else, right?
DeRay: Right, right.
Brittany: Right? Come on.
DeRay: Instead, they decided to break the law in order to pay … One of these parents spent 6.5 million dollars to get their kids into a school. And you know, 6.5 million dollars … You know, you can look up the value of the degrees online, right? And the most valuable degree in the country is worth one million dollars. So to spend 6.5 million, not even to get the degree, just to get in, right? Is just bad economics, doesn’t make sense. And then, you committed a crime, so now you’re going to jail. I mean, it’s just a mess. I don’t even know what to say.
DeRay: Whoever’s married to William Macy, her old tweet that was like, “We are partners in crime,” it’s like, “Girl, you are.” That’s rough. And it really is like, “What was your kid doing in school that you have to bribe a place where 50% of the people get in? I mean, what were they doing in school? That is rough. It just got reported that the two daughters of one of them, I don’t remember which one, that they left school. Whoever was at USC, that they are no longer at school.
Brittany: Yeah, that was Lori’s daughter, yeah. Sephora dropped her.
DeRay: But imagine having your parents pay all that money, and then you go to school and make YouTube videos bein’ like, “I’m not goin’ to class. I’m not gonna be there.” You’re like-
Brittany: That mother woulda been pissed!
DeRay: If you don’t know what privilege looks like, that’s what it looks like. You paid to get in, and you’re like, “Class?”
Brittany: She was like-
DeRay: And you’re right, Sephora dropped one of ’em. Hallmark dropped the other person.
Brittany: Hallmark dropped Aunt Becky!
DeRay: And her tweet was so … the Hallmark tweet was great. It was like, “We are saddened by the recent events. We are no longer working with her.” And you’re like, “We sad, too.”
DeRay: So on top of that, the reason that they got caught … so this recently got reported, was because of a guy named Yale Dad. So, think you can all envision what Yale Dad looks like. Everybody knows what Yale Dad looks like. Well, it turns out, he was under investigation for a separate fraud investigation. So, he committed his own type of fraud, separate from this fraud. And in order to get a lesser sentence, he had to snitch on this whole network of other fraudsters that he knew. So this is how pernicious this is. It is so deep, right?
DeRay: Where you have multiple groups of fraudsters working together.
Brittany: Hanging out with each other. Going to the golf course, chillin’.
DeRay: Right, right.
Brittany: Like, “My kid got into USC. Where’s your,” … “Yale.” Yeah, awesome. It is deeply pernicious, but all jokes aside, to your point, DeRay, this is how privilege functions. We know that part of this scam was to actually make the young people different ethnicities on their applications. They’re about to take advantage of Affirmative Action.
DeRay: Digital blackface.
Brittany: Yeah, like rich, white people haven’t always had Affirmative Action. And we know that they took advantage of accommodations that are provided to students with disabilities because they got extra time to take the standardized test. And then, they weren’t actually taking the test at all. Somebody came in and took it for them.
DeRay: And they were photo shopping themselves as athletes, which is probably the best part of it. It was like, they were photo shopping themselves as punters and football players. Chrissy Teigan tweeted a picture of her and John superimposed over some football players, and it was great. You’re like, “Y’all are really,” … And the crazy thing, one of the craziest things about the lawsuit is that only 50 people got indicted, but this guy is alleged to have helped 200 people get into college, so god only knows-
Brittany: They’re college students out there.
DeRay: Who else in Hollywood is coming down next.
Brittany: If I was a college student, I’d be walkin’ into class looking at everybody with like, “Is it you? Is it you? Do you deserve to be here?”
DeRay: And on top of that, they got put on teams that they were obviously unqualified for, so you got into the crew team at the college level, and you didn’t know anything about crew. You’re playing soccer, but you didn’t know anything about soccer, so what do the other students on the team think about these kids who didn’t ever play soccer before, or crew?
Brittany: I’d be pissed. And I’m particularly pissed that in this country, there are black or brown parents sitting in jail right now because they falsified their address to get their children in a better school districts, did not have half a million dollars or six million dollars lying around. So yeah, if I were one of the soccer players, I’d be pissed. But me, myself, I’m pissed right now because we already education in this country is separate and continuously unequal. And here these folks are, bribing their way into schools our kids can’t even look at. It’s ridiculous.
Brittany: I wanna make sure that we take a minute to acknowledge the incredible tragedy that happened in New Zealand. Two Mosques were met with gunfire from an active shooter. We saw, now, the manifesto from this shooter and he very clearly tracks his radicalization to what has been happening right here in this country, and at this White House. So, we certainly stand with Muslims all across the world for the terror that they have been facing, and the Islamophobia that has been rampant throughout this world. But yeah, we need to fix this college thing, but we most definitely need to fix the rise of hate, and all that America is doing to help [inaudible 00:07:57].
Sam: This is one of those issues where you look at the data, you see the Anti- Defamation League put out a report showing last year, in 2018, 100% of extremist killings were from right wing extremists, most of whom were white supremacists. So, white supremacist terrorism is the form of terrorism that predominates in the United States, and across the world. And we’re seeing the direct impact, not only here, where we’ve seen churches shot up, we’ve seen Synagogues shot up, we’ve seen Mosques shot up, but then you’re also seeing this exploited across the globe now, where many of the platforms, and personalities, and politicians, and Presidents who are radicalizing this type of behavior, are influencing people all across the world in ways that are nefarious, that have real life and death consequences for so many communities. And it’s sad, and I hope to see some sort of a response from the government. What is the United States government’s plan to address this issue? I’m not clear about that. They spent six trillion dollars on the war on terror since 9/11. Six trillion dollars. And we still don’t even know what the plan is, if there’s any plan at all, to deal with white supremacist terrorism. And so, that needs to change.
Brittany: But you know, if this government is gonna have a plan, then they have to acknowledge that they’re a part of the problem, and they’re not gonna do that.
DeRay: Now I do wanna say that what was interesting about this, in a really dangerous way, is a killing made to go viral. So before the video got stripped off of YouTube and Twitter, it came across my timeline before I realized what it was. In seeing enough of it, I could not believe … I actually could believe, in this moment, that a shooter had a camera on his helmet, he walked in, and he had written on the gun, like they were white supremacists sayings on the gun that the whole purpose of this was so it would go viral, so that people would see it, so that people would see exactly how he went into the Mosque, and callously and methodically killed people.
DeRay: And it makes me think about what the role of the internet could be, and should be in moments like this. It took YouTube a long time to get those videos down. It took Twitter a long time to get the videos down. It took most of the … Facebook, a long time to get the videos not to spread, and it’s like, we’ve seen them de-platform people really quickly. It’s like, where’s the technology to help us make sure things like this don’t spread before they get replicated and replicated? And there’s a great New York Times piece that said, “When Hate Goes Viral.” And I would encourage all of us to think about our role, and making sure that these messages don’t spread as quickly as people want them to be.
DeRay: So everybody, let’s welcome your Mayor, London Breed.
Mayor Breed: Thank you.
Brittany: Yes! And lookin’ hella fly, I might add. Yes.
DeRay: Yes, yes, yes! Now, let’s go to the news. Sam is starting us out.
Sam: All right. So, my news is right here in California. Your Governor issued an executive action. You know what I’m talkin’ about. You know what I’m talkin’ about. Yes, yes. Establishing a moratorium halting the death penalty in California. Yes. So, this is major, and it’s particularly major coming from California because there are more people on death row in California than anywhere else in the country. One in four people on death row in the United States, are on death row in California. That’s 737 people sitting on death row. The next closes state is Florida, which has about 350 people on death row. So this is a major impact on the death penalty nationwide, will come directly from this decision.
Sam: And it’s fascinating because Governor Newsom cited explicitly, the racial disparities and racial inequities, and how the death penalty has been applied. So research shows that someone is more likely to be sentenced to death if they are black, for the same crimes. You’re also more likely to be sentenced to death if you commit a crime against a white person, compared to a black person. So, in both ways, we say racism showing up in the application of the death penalty, and so all the more reason for it to stop here in California.
Sam: And California is now joining 23 other states that have also stopped the death penalty, almost all of which are democratic states. So what you see here is a situation where the death penalty has essentially ended in democratic areas, and continues to happen in red states. The problem is, those red states tend to also be states where the majority of the black population lives. 54% of the black population in america lives in the south, which is a solidly red area, unfortunately.
Sam: 54%. But hopefully, that changes when Stacey Abrams becomes either Governor, or Senator, or President.
Brittany: One of ’em.
Sam: But, yeah.
Brittany: Should’ve already been Governor. Let’s be clear.
Sam: Should’ve, yeah. She definitely won, but … the system. But yeah, so I wanted to hear your thoughts on that issue.
Brittany: So, one of the things that Governor Newsom also cited, in addition to the racial overtones of this, is the fact that it has never been an affective deterrent. Which I think is such a critical point, because that is the argument that so many folks make, both about the death penalty, and to be clear, about prison as a proper form of criminal justice and punishment. So I actually just looked up some of the stats on this, and the truth of the matter is prison time itself is also not a deter ant against committing crimes, nor is increasing the severity of the kind of prison term that you’re receiving. So if the death penalty is not a deterrent, and prison time is not a deterrent, and more severe prison time is not a deterrent, then why are we doing it this way? Right? I ask this question all the time. What is the point, in this country, of the criminal justice system as it currently exists.
Brittany: If it’s to rehabilitate people, we are clearly doing a very poor job of that. If it is to keep people safe, then we’re also doing a poor job of that, right? So we’re not meeting any kind of standard of efficacy. We’re certainly not meeting a moral standard by doing it the way that we’re doing it. And I just think we really have to grapple with the real question, not just of efficacy and how to keep people safe, and how to keep communities whole, but we have to grabble with the conversation about the value of human life, because it is awesome that a moratorium has been placed on the death penalty in this state. But we still know that people are facing inhumane conditions every single day when they are inside those jail houses, and we have to grapple with that if we’re gonna get real about actually dignifying people.
Mayor Breed: And one in 24 of those persons on death row didn’t even commit the crime, and I grew up in a neighborhood where you knew what happened in your neighborhood, and you knew the people who sometimes, would get arrested for crimes that they never even commit, and just the challenges to watch them go through court cases, and have to plea and end up doing time for things that everybody in the neighborhood knew that they never even did, is something that has really torn so many communities, especially African American communities, apart with our criminal justice system. And I think that more has to be done to really reform criminal justice so that there is some real changes. And if we continue down this path of basically killing people as a result of their sentencing, and then we discover later, because of DNA evidence, or someone deciding to basically say, “I’m sorry, I made a mistake,” then the person is gone, and there’s no redemption. There’s no going back from that. So I do think that we need to abolish it completely, and this is just one step to hopefully get us there.
Sam: Yes, so nationwide, according to the FBI Uniform Crime Report, 5% of all arrests made in this country are for violent crimes, 12% are for property crimes, and the vast majority of arrests that happen are for low level offenses. So things like disorderly conduct, and having an open container of alcohol in the street. There are actually more people arrested for marijuana possession alone, than all violent crimes combined, and that’s even after many states have legalized marijuana possession.
Sam: Fun fact, that’s what the police are doing with the vast majority of their resources. So, when we think about how do we actually invest in addressing issues of public safety, keeping people safe, a lot of those investments don’t involve the police, they involve investigative community based organizations, and other strategies that are proven to actually address issues of crime and safety, and not spend 90% of their resources arresting people for non-violent, low-level offenses.
DeRay: I wanted to talk about that, because the myths that people think about the criminal justice system actually shape the way people think about solutions. And the death penalty actually plays into that, that if you think violent crime is 50%, 60% of what’s happening, you’re more likely to support these things.
DeRay: Now what’s interesting about Governor Newsom’s executive order, putting a moratorium on the death penalty is that people often talk about decisions like that as if it was easy, but in California, the last poll actually shows that 60% of Californians actually support the death penalty, so it was actually brave for him to do this, in actually going against the currant to do that, which is not insignificant.
DeRay: I was in that execution chamber in Angola. So, Angola, the prison Angola in Louisiana is the single biggest land mass prison in the country. It’s 18,000 acres, 28 square miles. Huge. It used to be three plantations. It is now one. A big piece of land, which is this prison. And being in the execution chamber was really harrowing because you see just the mechanics of it. You see the executioner has a separate room to enter in because the executioner’s identity is secret. I didn’t know until recently that two people just got killed in Tennessee, choosing to die by electric chair. And when they died by … In 2018, in November/December two people got killed by electric chair. And the process is they shave their heads, wet their heads, they put the thing on. Two jolts of electricity, and then they die. You’re like, this is just not a humane thing.
DeRay: Not only is it not a deterrent, but we actually shouldn’t be participating in a system that does that. So, this is a good step here. We need to figure out how to spread it across the country.
Mayor Breed: So I wanted to talk about fines and fees. What happens, sadly, when someone is arrested and they go through the criminal justice system, and say, for example, they’re released. They’ve served their time, and then they’re released, they’re sometimes crippled with fines and fees where not only are they paying restitution, maybe, for a crime that they may or may not have committed, but they’re also paying for maybe their ankle monitor bracelet, their probation fees, and a number of other expenses.
Mayor Breed: Now, this issue was something that was really important to me because I was frustrated when I was running a non-profit organization, and some people who I hired, I would get these letters that I had to garnish their wages because of these fines and fees. And we were able to, last year, I’m really proud, I introduced legislation. We were able to get rid of those fines and fees. And not only that, we passed the legislation that eliminated fines and fees, but also, there was about 32 million dollars in uncollected fees that we were able to get rid of. The Supreme Court supported my decision when I became Mayor, when I made the request to the courts to get rid of those fees completely. That was about 21,000 people, at an average of $1500.00 per person.
Mayor Breed: And what’s so significant about this is just imagine you’re coming home, you want a second chance, you’re working, and all of the sudden, most of your check is being garnished to pay for your probationary fee, or a report fee, or something you didn’t even realize you had to pay for. So this was the first in the country that we did, here in San Francisco. And now, most recently, it’s going statewide. State Senator, Holly Mitchell, introduced a bill, SB144, which is basically gonna hopefully eliminate fines and fees throughout the entire state of California. Estimated to be over 12 billion dollars.
Mayor Breed: So, this is just, in comparison, when you think about it, ’cause I just, again, think about my family, and the community, and the challenges I’ve personally experienced with the collect phone calls, and the expensive phone calls, the commissary, how much money families have to end up paying, sadly, for their loved ones who are experiencing incarceration. And usually these are low income families and families of color who just really are trying to make ends meet. And so, I think that’s important that we look at the inequities in our criminal justice system, and look at ways in which we can cut back the bureaucracy, cut back the unfair fines and fees that are leveed for towing fees, and all of these different things that continue to sadly continue to widen the income inequality gap in our country. And the data shows that even in collecting these fees, we only collect about 9%of the probationary fees.
DeRay: Oh wow.
Mayor Breed: I mean, it was making absolutely no sense to try to continue to have these fees on the books when we weren’t collecting them, and we weren’t doing anything to help get someone back on their feet.
Brittany: That’s awesome. Awesome. You know, we talk often about the fact that a change in conversation doesn’t actually represent a change in outcomes, but I think this is actually one of the wins that we can put in a column, because I just wanna remind all of us that before 2014, before the Ferguson uprising in particular, we were not, as a nation, talking about court fines and fees on either end of it. Before you were convicted and after. And everything from traffic stops to larger crimes, right? People are dealing with these fines and fees, but these are stories that have been told in our communities for forever. Like you said, you knew about this problem for years when you were running a non-profit agency and had to garnish those wages. There were folks coming and saying, right? “I got pulled over five times in the last year, and here are all of the court fines and fees that are associated with that. And you want me to actually get back on the good foot, and I can’t, because I’m actually having to catch up with all of these fines that you’re charging me. And it was fascinating because people have been telling these stories for years, and nobody believed them, because the people who had the stories were mostly black and brown, and the people who had those stories to tell were in communities that we continue to ignore.
Brittany: So what the Ferguson uprising did was really shine a light in a way that demanded that these stories not only be heard, but be validated and legitimized. One of the elements of white dominant culture is called, The Worship of the Written Word. And what we have to understand about white dominant culture is it doesn’t mean white people are bad. What it means is that there is a culture in this country that we have all experienced and been taught is the right way to be. Right?
Brittany: So there are right ways to use your time. There are right ways to be efficient and urgent. And there are right ways to tell stories. And one of the, quote-unquote, right ways to tell stories is to make sure that it’s written. But that doesn’t include folks that come from oral traditions. That doesn’t include families, and communities, and cultures where the stories are passed down, and where I’m supposed to believe what you tell me.
Brittany: So when the DOJ put out the report about Ferguson, all of the sudden, people finally started to believe the stories that we had been hearing in our communities for forever. We only got that report because we put our bodies on the line, and we demanded that the light be shined on Ferguson. And Ferguson is everywhere. Because it was happening here in California, it’s happening all over the country. So often, we can’t change the conversation in a way that leads to real outcomes, but this is one of the times that we did. And I’m glad to see that you all are moving forward in this way.
Sam: So just to provide a little bit of data and context for this issue, nationwide, it costs about 82 billion dollars to run the nations jails and prisons. So 82 billion dollars. But the total cost of mass incarceration, according to Prison Policy Institute is 182 billion dollars. Right? So we’ve gone from 80 to 180, and a lot of that difference is a cost that’s born by families. So not the actual cost of running the prisons, but the cost that is being transferred to families to pay for a family member’s incarceration. And oftentimes, the people who are incarcerated themselves are having to pay for the meals, commissary, phone calls. 1.6 billion dollars every year is spent by people who are incarcerated, and their family members, just to communicate with one another over the phone.
Sam: And in addition to all of that, we have to talk about the intersection of policing in mass incarceration, because in addition to the fines and the fees, there’s also a practice called Civil Asset Forfeiture.
Sam: Now Civil Asset Forfeiture means that a police officer who stops you can confiscate your money or property, they can take your car, your house, they can take the cash in your wallet if they believe, or say they believe that, that money had some sort of tie to a crime being committed. So this was pioneered under the War on Drugs, where they said that there were a lot of drug dealers, a lot of drug trafficking. They were dealing in cash, so if we can just get that cash without having to worry about having to convict somebody and prove that they actually committed a crime, then somehow, we’ll keep the streets safe. And instead, what you see now, is that there’s actually more money stolen … taken, under Civil Asset Forfeiture by the police than the total amount of money that is stolen under all of the burglaries that happen in the United States. That is a wild figure. And that is entirely legalized by laws. State law and the Federal Asset Sharing Program between the Department of Justice and various law enforcement agencies. So, we have to take on each facet of this. It’s the fines, it’s the fees, it’s all of these costs when people are incarcerated, and then after they come home, and it’s these police practices that oftentimes compound the impact off all of those things.
DeRay: So, when we [inaudible] in St. Louis, there was somebody who was with us, who is currently serving time in jail in Missouri, and every time I send him money I have to figure out, “How do I make sure I send enough money that you have money, but not too much. And what does it mean not too much?” He sent me a message recently being like, “Hey DeRay, can you send me some more money?” I’m like, “Well, what’s the limit?” He’s like, “What do you mean?” I’m like, “Just check and see if there’s a limit.” He writes me back and he’s like, “If I receive more than $500.00 a month it is taken and Missouri charges me for room and board.” And I’m like, “Scam, scam.” Every time I email him, I have to buy an electronic stamp. I can only buy stamps in books. I need one stamp per email. Really, one stamp per page of the email. How do you know how many pages? Good question. And then, two stamps per attachment. You’re like, “This is a scam.” You know?
DeRay: And I say that because we’re always trying to be mindful that we never let the system off the hook. What Mayor Breed was helping us think about with her news is like, that the system is often operating in ways that people aren’t paying attention to, and that the aggregate of the way the system operates really has an impact on a lot of people. Especially people like Brittany talked about, that nobody believes.
DeRay: I think about, I live in Baltimore. And in Baltimore,, the police are terrorizing people for a long time. Who believes drug dealers, though? Who believes homeless people? People weren’t believing people telling the truth all along the way, but the system was continuing to operate, and we never let the system off the hook.
Mayor Breed: But also, for example, if you give money to someone who owes restitution, then money is taken off their books for that. The money that is used that’s collected for the phone calls and for the commissary is used to pay for programs in the jails. It’s something that, when I first became a member of the Board of Supervisors, I helped to reduce those fees considerably, and we’re looking at a way in which we can eliminate them all together. Because why is it that we, again, are providing programs on the backs of the families who are most likely low income family, to help pay for the services? It makes absolutely no sense.
Mayor Breed: And as, again, someone whose family was subjected to those fees because of other family members, I mean, it could be detrimental. You could get your phone cut off and everything else to try to help support a family member who’s incarcerated. And that, doesn’t do anything for the family, for the community that’s trying to support their family member. It doesn’t do anything for rehabilitation and giving that person hope, so that when they do come home, there’s an opportunity for them to succeed. If we want to really change things for the better, especially those who are sadly impacted by our criminal justice system, we have to open up the doors of opportunity and provide a real chance for them to succeed. And we can’t continue to cripple them and their families with all of these fees that serve no real purpose.
DeRay: Right. Give a round of applause for Mayor Breed, for joining us today for the news.
Brittany: Whoo, whoo, whoo, whoo!!
DeRay: Thank you.
Brittany: You good?
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Brittany: Please give it up for the first of her name, the slayer of press conferences, the breaker of chains, Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi.
DeRay: Hey! [inaudible] Speaker. We are honored to have you here. We have a lot to talk about. You are from Baltimore. I’m from Baltimore.
Speaker Pelosi: Baltimore.
DeRay: Yes. Yes. It’s an understatement to say that the world is a complicated world. You were in this role before, and you’re back in it now. What has changed?
Speaker Pelosi: First of all, DeRay, thank you so much for the invitation to be here. I appreciated the previous panel, which I heard from backstage. Wasn’t it wonderful? Thank you for your kind welcome. We’re at a place in time, whether it compares to when I was Speaker first time, I’ll get to, but let’s talk about where we are, and the important decision that our country has to make to honor our oath of office, the Constitution of the United States, to respect the people who make up America, a nation of immigrants, unless you’re blessed to be born Native American, and that’s a blessing as well. But to respect the people.
Speaker Pelosi: What is America? America is our people, it is our values and our Constitution, our principles of freedom. It’s our beautiful patrimony of natural resources that God has given us. And all of these things are at risk under the difficult circumstances under which we must govern in Washington D.C. right now. But we must be hopeful. We don’t agonize, we organize. And the most important … there are two major differences. One, the current occupant of the White House, because while I disagreed vehemently with President George W. Bush on the war in Iraq, vehemently, we did have other areas of agreement for the good of the American people. The biggest energy bill in the history of our country, which was taking millions of cars off the road. Legislation that enabled President Obama to protect many of the environmental advances from Paris [inaudible 00:34:11], et cetera.
Speaker Pelosi: We did [inaudible] to spread, in a major way for HIV and AIDS drugs to go out through the rest of the world, especially in Africa. We passed the tax bill that was refundable to poor people. One of the most progressive tax bills ever, was about poor people, people with children, earned tax credit, child tax credit, et cetera. The list goes on.
Speaker Pelosi: This time … well, let me dwell on the positive. The positive is all of you. Social media, public sentiment spread in real time about some of the decisions that are made in D.C. So DeRay, when we talk about … I have two clubs. I wanna see if you wanna join any of them.
Speaker Pelosi: One of them is called The Crescendo Club. Let’s get our idea, let’s grow the base of support for it. Let’s expand our knowledge about it. Let’s put it across the finish line with the public there with us. Ever growing, widening circle, bigger dreams that we put forth. The second one, you nearly have to sign up for. It’s called The Two Hot to Handle Club. And we have to make every issue that is of primary importance to us, and we can decide together what they are, too hot for them to handle. Right now, one of those is the Gun Violence Protection bill that we passed, that we’re so happy about. 25 years since we had a major background check legislation. That was historic. It was thrilling.
Speaker Pelosi: HR 1 to restore decency to government. To reduce the role of dark, special interest money in politics, and advance small donors. To get rid of voter suppression, to pass the voting rights act. Addressing issues about polling places. The number of them, the timing of them, the neighborhoods.
DeRay: You saw what happened in New Zealand, and how that was linked to the issue of white supremacy. Do you think that there will be an opportunity to have Congressional hearings on white supremacy? Is there a plan that we can do from the Federal Government to actually tackle white supremacy, head on? What can we do?
Speaker Pelosi: Let me say three words that will give you hope. Chairman Bennie Thompson. Chairman Bennie Thompson, for the last several years, while the republicans were in the majority, was trying to have hearings on domestic terrorism. And that’s how we view some of this. Violence in our own country that was threatening people’s lives. And of course, in the last two years, that has been given almost entree in a shameful, awful, dangerous, lethal way. So Bennie’s been talking about this, and now he is the Chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, and he will then be able … the majority makes such a difference.
Speaker Pelosi: DeRay, three of my favorite words are majority, majority, majority. But also, all of these issues, while there’s a Committee of Jurisdiction it’s very important. We have to make sure that every committee considers this their jurisdiction.
Speaker Pelosi: We have our work cut out for us, and we may have our differences along the way, but we have to weight the equities, establish the priorities, and win. Just win.
DeRay: I wanted to ask you, too … I don’t wanna ask about Trump a lot, because-
Speaker Pelosi: No, we don’t wanna talk about him.
DeRay: We don’t. But there were a lot of people who heard your statement that you gave recently, saying that it wasn’t worthy to impeach him. And they took that to suggest that … for a lot of people, they were like, he is really harming their lives. He has done a lot of bad things, and that impeachment actually would be a good thing to go for, when they heard you say that it wasn’t worth our time, then a lot of people were like, “It actually does seem worth the time because he’s inflicting a lot of damage on a lot of people’s communities.” So, I wanted to ask you about that, since you were gonna be here.
Speaker Pelosi: I appreciate that question, DeRay. Thank you. The reason I said that, is because, for maybe eight months, I’ve been saying what we are doing, what we ran on, and what we are doing, and what we have an imperative to address, is the financial insecurity of America’s working families. The disparity in income in our country, the access to affordable quality healthcare and cleaner government. So our For the People agenda in the election was, lower healthcare costs by lowering the cost of prescription drugs, and preserving the preexisting condition, among other things. Bigger paychecks by building infrastructure. in a green way. for the 21st Century in our country. Cleaner government, HR 1, that I talked about earlier. Getting rid of the big role of dark, special interest money, and having government work in the people’s interest, so people have confidence that you can lower healthcare. A prescription cost that you can build things in a green, environmentally safe way. So, when I say, “He’s not worth it,” it got attention. For eight months I’ve been saying we shouldn’t impeach him. I never thought we should impeach him until we get through The Mueller Report, and we have the facts, the law, and the case.
Speaker Pelosi: Now, we could, because impeachment is a very divisive thing in the country. It’s very divisive. For some reason, there’s still some people who would vote for him again.
DeRay: Which is frightening.
Speaker Pelosi: I know. But there are. That big tax cuts, their own insecurity. But let’s respect them if they voted. Okay? If they voted. Okay. So, my point is, the interest of our people, 40% of whom cannot afford a $500.00 assault on their budget, whether it’s a broken water heater, or a carburetor, or some other unforeseen surprise, they couldn’t handle $500.00 more. So we’re saying, our focus on those people, and he’s not worth our advancing their economic, their health, the clean air that they breathe, the water their children drink, et cetera. When the case is there, then we can turn our attention to it.
Speaker Pelosi: In the meantime, we have extensive oversight of the Executive Branch. Extensive oversight. They’re saying now, “All you do is investigate. All you’re about is investigation.” No. We’re keeping our eye on the ball. Lower healthcare costs, bigger paychecks, cleaner government. Gun safety, DREAMers, LGBTQ with their Equality Act that we announced this week, too. No discrimination against LGBT … Equal pay for equal work. All of that fits in the thing, we’ll pass all of these around the time we reach our 100 day mark, because we just have to move it forward. We can’t … But at the same time, we are article one, the first branch of government. The beautiful preamble, “We the people,” article one. The first branch of government. It’s first for a reason. The legislative branch. A check and a balance, co-equal to the executive and judiciary separation of powers. The beauty of the Constitution. Thank God, later, that they made it amendable so that we could expand freedoms in the Constitution.
Speaker Pelosi: But the separation of power is essential. And the responsibility is that we will have oversight of the President. So when they say, “All you do is investigate,” and we say, “That’s our Constitutional responsibility. Not to do it, we would be delinquent in our duties.”
Speaker Pelosi: And let me just say how proud I am of another thing that we did. Joaquin Castro introduced the motion to overturn the President’s mythological, not grounded in reality, emergency executive order. Right away in the House, he did it the end of one week. On Monday, we introduced the bill. That week, we passed the bill, sent it to the Senate, and on Thursday, 12 Republicans joined and said, “This is not in support of the Constitution of the United States.” This is very important because nobody is surprised at the overreach of the executive branch in this case. And while he vetoed it-
DeRay: Oh, will you be able to override the veto?
Speaker Pelosi: Well, we won’t be able to override the veto, but we will be able to … we have sent a bill to the desk of the President, bipartisan, and he vetoes it, but that is our case in court. What is the intent of Congress. 12 republicans in the Senate. At the same time, on Thursday, in the House, we passed a bill, 440 yeses.
Speaker Pelosi: As a sense of the Congress to release the Mueller Report. Yeah. Four people voted, present. Nobody voted no. About 440 voted yes. The day before, the Senate voted against the President’s … our involvement in Yemen. Republicans joining us in that legislation. So again, when the public is aware, when the public weighs in, as President Lincoln said, “Public sentiment is everything. Anything can happen with it. Nothing, practically, can happen without it.”
DeRay: Before you go, so two things, Madam Speaker is … are you supporting anybody for 2020?
Speaker Pelosi: They’re all great. Any one of them would be a better President of the United States.
DeRay: What do you make of leading such a young, diverse, nosy internet congress. Such different energy. How is it?
Speaker Pelosi: Perfect. It’s hope. It’s hope.
DeRay: It’s hope.
Speaker Pelosi: It’s great. Now, I mean, the point is, is that most of us, when we came to Congress, had the same verb, exuberance, “This is the way it should be done,” kind of thing. And that’s the constant reinvigoration of the Congress of the United States. Right now, our House, the democrats in the House, 60% of our caucus is women, people of color, LGBTQ. 60%. So, this is fabulous. Tied with what I said earlier, social media, in real time, information getting out. These are the decisions. So, our Congress, the way I view the House of Representatives, is it’s an open Town Hall meeting, with transparency, so that people can see what is being voted on, and how it affects their lives. You have to know, when you come to Congress, no matter if it’s your whatever term, or your first term, why are you here? What is your vision? Same thing with these Presidentials. Why should they be President? Tell us your why. What is the authentic, sincere, genuine passion that you bring to this, that you can be trusted to deliver on.
Speaker Pelosi: So when you see this new class come, they are … many of them were never in politics. It’s amazing how many never in elective office, so they are coming without a political ambition, but with a purpose. And the others with a purpose, too, but this is fresh and new, and it’s wonderful. But it is … no, it’s a blessing to our country. And it’s gonna be a great Congress, and we’ve accomplished a lot so far. But don’t ever think that the democratic party is a homogeneous, everybody thinking … we are not a rubber stamp. That is not our purpose or our vitality. We have our differences. We build our consensus, boldest common denominator. Boldest. Our diversity is our strength. Our unity is our power.
Speaker Pelosi: And that we need all the power that we can use because we’re up against something that is off the spectrum of governance in our country, so we have to remember, this is difficult. Because this isn’t about democrats and republicans. That, would be easy. This is not about partisanship, not about party. It’s really about patriotism. It’s about our Constitution, our people, our values, our beautiful land. And one thing it is definitely not about, is about Nationalists. White Nationalists in our country, who try to take the word Nationalist and make it sound like it’s synonymous with patriotism. It most certainly is not.
DeRay: So as we go, final words. There are a lot of people in the audience, or listening who have protested, they’ve called, they’ve emailed, they’ve done all the things that they were told to do, and the world isn’t changing in the way that they thought it was going to. That they are … some people might be losing hope in this moment. What do you say who people who might be losing hope.
Speaker Pelosi: Well, I don’t think they should lose hope. I think that despair is one of the worst places we could sink into. I wanted them to be hopeful because things, they are a-changing. The House democrats have voted for all the things I’ve talked to you about. Now, we have a responsibility to make sure people see the difference. People ask me, “Where is hope? Where am I going to find hope?” And I say, “Hope is sitting there where it always has sat. Right there, between faith and charity. Faith, hope and charity.” Faith in each other, that we can, working together, make the difference based on respect, love, charity, sense of community for all, to give people hope that somebody cares about them, and will have public policies that will make a difference for them. And never … of course, we’ve probably heard people say this over the years. Never has it been more urgent than now.
Speaker Pelosi: I’ll close with this, since I’m speaking at a religious thing here. 17 centuries ago … You can just imagine how my republican colleagues like hearing me say this. 17 centuries ago, Saint Augustine wrote, “Any government that is not formed to promote justice is just a bunch of thieves.” How about that? But that’s what they are doing. That is what they are doing. The Pope wrote about this in the Encyclical, Benedict, he said, “Sometimes it’s hard to define what justice is. But in doing so, you must beware of the dazzling blindness of money and special interests.” HR 1. It should give people hope.
DeRay: Too hot to handle.
Speaker Pelosi: Their voice will be stronger than the dazzling blindness of special interest.
DeRay: Let’s give it up for House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi. You’re so great.
DeRay: Hey, you’re listening to Pod Save the People. Don’t go anywhere. There’s more to come.
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DeRay: So, here we go. We’re about to Katherine out from the Wikimedia Foundation.
Here she comes. Here we go. How are you doing?
Katherine Maher: It’s a tough act to follow.
DeRay: So let’s start. We met a while ago. I think we met at a conference.
Katherine Maher: Probably.
DeRay: You probably didn’t know that this wonderful person runs the Wikimedia Foundation, which runs Wikipedia, which all of you do know. How did you get there? How did you get to Wikimedia?
Katherine Maher: A happy accident. So, my background prior to joining Wikimedia was primarily looking at how technology was changing the way that people exercise their rights. I started working at UNICEF many years ago, looking at access to education and healthcare, specifically working on HIV and AIDS prevention in eastern and southern Africa, and over time, got really interested in not just how you provide services to people, but how do you engage people in designing the services that they want. And so that, led me into working more with people doing democracy and governance activism, human rights defenders working in really tough contexts.
Katherine Maher: And a few years back, Wikimedia called and say they were really interested in finding somebody who had this intersection of advocacy, human rights, communication skills, technology background, and I said, “Oh my god, that’s doing everything that I’ve ever wanted to do, but doing it on a platform with a community that actually owns all of the activity, that owns all of the mission and values, and doing so in a way that is really following their lead rather than actually trying to design from the center. And it’s the best job on the planet.
DeRay: Can you lay the foundation for us? How many people use it? Is it mostly here? Is it mostly in other countries? What’s the what with … I feel like I use it a lot, but you tell us.
Katherine Maher: So a lot of people use it. We have about a billion and a half devices that visit Wikipedia’s pages every month. We serve about 16 billion page views on a monthly basis. We don’t know how many people that is because we have really strong privacy policies, so we don’t track you. But yeah, it comes as a surprise to a lot of people. They’re like, “Why do you keep showing me the fundraiser?” And we’re like, “Well, ’cause we don’t track you. We don’t know that you donated. I’m sorry.”
Katherine Maher: So, it’s about a billion and a half devices that visit us. They come from all over the globe. There’s no question that we’re still most popular in North America, Europe and the Anglophone world, more broadly speaking. Japan, Russia, two other really big countries. And growing popularity in other places in the world. This transcript was exported on Mar 25, 2019 @ 11:15 PM UTC00: – view latest version here. So, Latin America, really strong growth recently. And we’re seeing that in Asia, and in [inaudible] and Africa as well. But truly, Wikipedia is everywhere, ’cause we’re in 300 languages. So the question of who uses Wikipedia is really about in what language, in what community, for what purpose, for what cause?
DeRay: Do you plan to spread the languages? And how do you think about representation, given that it might not be serviceable in some places? Like, some places can’t access Wikipedia because of the language barrier. How do you think about representation?
Katherine Maher: We think about it a lot. So, right now, in 300 languages, we largely serve most major language communities. And that, includes languages like Urdu, or Hausa. Language communities that are beyond the Colonial languages of Spanish or French, and even beyond the major U.N. languages like Russian and Arabic. So most major languages are served by Wikipedia. Some are much smaller. Some are much larger. And I think that we’re increasingly interested in how do we also serve language communities like indigenous languages. What we try to offer is a platform in which people can find ways to express what their knowledge needs are. And if that is 1000 articles, and that is the right size for that community, then that’s the right thing for us. We try to not assume what any community needs, or any individual needs when they’re pursuing knowledge.
Katherine Maher: And that means that we also take this philosophy that if you’re looking up … I think the most popular article, today you were talking about the college admissions issue. I think the most popular articles today on Wikipedia were trending, were some of the people who were caught up in that. If that’s the knowledge you’re seeking, that’s the knowledge you’re seeking. If that’s the knowledge you’re seeking, and that happens to lead you to questions around what standardized testing is, and what that means in terms of access to educational opportunity, and that takes you down that rabbit hole, well then, we’ve done our job. We’re not judging what paths you take to learning. We’re offering you those paths.
DeRay: Got it. Thanks for coming tonight.
DeRay: Well, that’s it. Thanks so much for tuning into Pod Save the People this week. Tell your friends to check it out. Make sure that you rate it wherever you get your podcasts, whether it’s Apple Podcasts or somewhere else. We’ll see you next week.