EPISODE 3: ASHLEY, PART 1
Compiled and Synthesized by David Sokol
Edited by Samia Mounts
00:01:00 Are people really shooting each other over politics?
On June 14th, 2017, the House of Representatives majority whip, Steve Scalise, was shot by a lone gunman named James T. Hodgkinson, who was said to be distraught over President Trump’s election. While a motive has not been officially named yet due to the ongoing investigation (at the time of this fact check), South Carolina House Representative Jeff Duncan said he encountered the man, later identified as the gunman, who asked him if the team practicing was a Democrat or Republican team. When told by Rep. Duncan that it was a Republican team, he said, “Okay, thanks,” and walked away. Mr Hodgkinson had posted on multiple social media websites making clear his disdain for Trump and support of Senator Bernie Sanders.
On May 29th a Republican state lawmaker from Texas allegedly threatened to shoot a Democratic colleague. While this example is only a threat, I believe it makes very clear how quickly political stances and feelings can escalate to violence of the most extreme kind.
Not to mention the many people who have died at the hands of right-wing extremists. According to a report from the Anti-Defamation League, right-wing terrorism is as big a problem in the US as the terrorism of groups like Al-Qaeda and ISIS.
And the new arrival of the Antifa, short for anti-fascists, a group that has begun showing up at protests organized by Trump supporters. They wear masks and black clothing, and often have things that look like weapons in their hands. They mostly refuse to talk to reporters. There have been reports of Antifa activists throwing rocks, stopping traffic, jumping on cars, and yelling, “Who did you vote for?” So far, they haven’t injured or killed anyone, but the whole thing frightens me. Put the clubs away, children, and use your words.
00:07:30 Which countries were added to the list for stricter vetting by the Obama administration in 2015, what list was this, and what visa program?
Some of what Ashley said is accurate. Other bits are not entirely wrong but aren’t really correct either. Several countries were added to a list that would be subject to stricter vetting. Where Ashley’s confusion lays is in which countries are actually subject to the restrictions and the rules for when and how the restrictions apply.
On December 18, 2015, President Obama signed into law the 2016 Consolidated Appropriations Act (H.R. 2029), which, in addition to funding the government through three quarters of 2016, included H.R. 158, the Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015. The government began implementing the changes on January 21, 2016.
What H.R.158 did was place limited restrictions on nationals of Visa Waiver Program countries (which includes, but is in no way limited to, the United Kingdom, Ireland, France, Italy, Japan and 32 others) who are traveling to the United States that had been present in Syria, Iraq, Iran, Sudan on or after March 1, 2011, or any nationals of Visa Waiver Program countries that have dual citizenship in those countries. These individuals would no longer be eligible to travel or be admitted to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program. They could travel to the U.S. after applying for and obtaining a visa from a U.S. embassy or consulate.
There are some general exceptions for a waiver to be granted, such as the purposes of reporting, travel on behalf of international organizations, on behalf of a non-governmental humanitarian organization (NGO), or for legitimate business-related purposes. No waiver is guaranteed and all are being considered on a case-by-case basis by the Secretary of Homeland Security.
On February 18, 2016 the New York Times reported that the countries of Libya, Somalia, and Yemen were added to the list.
You didn’t have to be from these nations to be restricted from using the Visa Waiver Program. You could be a full-time citizen of the United Kingdom or EU, and if you spent any time in one of those countries for a reason not being considered for a waiver, or if you are denied a waiver, you would have to obtain a visa via the standard route of application and interview before traveling to the U.S.
Moral of the story - it's hard to get into the US if you've traveled to one of those countries, thanks to policies put in place by Barack Obama.
00:08:04 Do people over the age of 80 and under the age of 13 not have to be interviewed before receiving visas to enter the United States?
Depending on the type of visa you are entering on, you either will be required regardless of age or you may not have to be interviewed at all.
Travelers who aren’t eligible for the VisaWaiver Program who wish to obtain a Visitor Visa (also known as a B Visa) are required to interview at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in the country where they live. Those aged 13 and younger or 80 and older are generally not required to attend the interview. However, it is clearly stated on the U.S. Department of State website that “while interviews are generally not required for applications of certain ages outlined below, consular officers have the discretion to require an interview of any applicant, regardless of age.
Those wishing to immigrate to the United States must obtain one of a large number of immigrant visa classifications and categories. All of them require EVERY person to undergo an interview, including children and the elderly.
00:08:10 Are there videos being released by ISIS that target children?
Heartbreakingly, this is all too true. All you have to do is google “ISIS children videos” and it will pull up more of these graphic videos than anyone would want to see. For the sake of being thorough on research and fact checking, I did click on a handful of links to see if there were more than one video, and indeed there were.
00:08:39 Is it really possible for children that immigrate to the United States to potentially have it in their heads to do harm by an act of terrorism?
It is. ISIS is focused on this exact thing. They are doing their best to tell the United States and other Western countries that even if we were to kill all of their adult male fighters, children will grow up and take their place. Some of the children being indoctrinated are as young as eight years old. John Hogan, a psychologist and terrorism expert, explains how they progress children from being passive bystanders to fully mobilized members of ISIS.
00:11:00 What did Donald Trump want to do with our current immigration policy?
Donald Trump mentioned that he wanted to enact “extreme vetting.” Once in office, in order to develop these extreme vetting measures, Trump signed an executive order on Friday, January 27, 2017, which is commonly referred to as the “Muslim ban” or “travel ban” by liberals. (The full text of the order can be found here.) The order barred all persons from certain “terror-prone” countries from entering the United States for 90 days. It also suspended the US Refugee Admissions Program for 120 days.
These countries are the same countries that the Obama administration had added a year prior to the list of countries that would have additional restrictions in regards to the visa-waiver program.
Trump has never said anything about a required interview for children under 13 or adults over 80 years old to receive a B Tourist Visa, which is the only visa that does not generally require an interview for those age groups. However, a consulate may require any person, regardless of age, to interview for their tourist visa for any reason.
Visas required for immigration to the United States currently require and have required an interview for ALL persons immigrating to the United States.
00:11:18 How extreme is our current refugee vetting process? And what about for regular immigrants?
It’s one of the most extreme and time-consuming vetting processes in the world. Here’s a detailed rundown of the current refugee vetting process in the United States.
For a more personal take on this, here’s a personal essay from a young man who actually went through the process himself in trying to escape with his family from the brutal Assad regime in Syria.
And for a personal take on the other side of the current vetting process, read this personal essay from a former US immigration officer.
This extreme vetting process applies only to refugees, not all immigrants coming to the United States. However, we aren’t exactly an easy country to get immigration status in, either. Here’s a summary of the other vetting processes already in place to protect the United States from potential terrorist threats.
00:11:44 Have any refugees executed terrorist attacks? Have there really been none?
Samia was very close on this one, but not totally correct. Since the Refugee Act of 1980, there have been no fatal terror attacks carried out in the U.S. by a refugee, Syrian or otherwise. Before 1980, though, three Cuban refugees did carry out terror attacks, killing three people. Since the 1980 refugee act was established, there has been one attack executed by a refugee. In December 2016, a Somalian refugee injured 13 people at Ohio State University, with no fatalities (other than the attacker himself, who was gunned down by police). Officials investigated the act as a terrorist attack.
00:11:53 Are any refugees facilitating aspiring terrorists to train and carry out their ideas?
Here is the recent study that Samia was referring to. On page 14, you’ll find the number of people that were facilitators (19), and on page 25, it shows you the percentage of facilitators (18%) that were refugees (19 x .18 = 3.42). Who says I don’t know my basic algebra? But I digress…
Here is a transcript of an NPR interview with the author of the above study explaining the findings in more detail. Essentially, the findings indicate that refugee involvement in facilitating any kind of terrorism-related activity is extremely rare.
00:12:23 Are U.S. Citizens responsible for 80% of the terrorist attacks in recent history?
Yes. From March 1, 2014 through June 30, 2016, 79% of the terrorist attacks in our country were carried out by U.S. citizens (refer to the handy pie chart on page 24).
And according to the The Atlantic, 82% of all terror attacks since 9/11 were carried out by US citizens or permanent residents.
Why is no one talking about developing programs designed to stop the radicalization of young Americans?
00:13:00 What exactly did NATO and NAFTA have to do with the 9/11 attacks?
The short answer - nothing.
I am assuming that the list of countries Ashley is referring to is the list previously discussed in re: the visa-waiver program, and that’s she addressing the fact that none of the 9/11 terrorists came from any of those countries.
Much has been made over the threat that student visas pose to our national security. It’s possible that Ashley meant to refer to NAFSA: Association of International Educators, because one of the 9/11 attackers was admitted to the US on a student visa. Also, two of the hijackers applied to have their visa status changed to vocational student once in the US. If they were granted that status, they never used it to re-enter the country.
Regardless of any of those countries and their Visa Waiver Program status, none of the nineteen 9/11 hijackers came in through that program. Eighteen of them were here on standard B tourist visas (B-1 or B-2, business or tourism, respectively) and one was here on a student visa. One other person linked to the 9/11 attacks was here through the Visa Waiver Program, but was arrested and captured in August 2001.
Here is the Cato Institute risk analysis chart showing the 9/11 terrorists and the visas they used to enter the US. T= Tourist Visa. F= Student Visa. V = Visa Waiver Program. The only one with a V next to his name, Zacarias Moussaoui, is the man who was arrested in August 2001, before the attacks. He testified in court that he was supposed to have hijacked a fifth plane, although that contradicts the testimony made by the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed. (Note: The number of fatalities has been evenly distributed amongst all 19 hijackers, and the image below was cut from a larger chart showing this information for all terrorist attacks from 1975 to 2015.)
00:15:38 Did anything change in or just before 2001 that allowed the 19 hijackers to enter the United States more easily?
I can very much understand Ashley’s emotional reaction here. Losing family can make everything very personal.
In terms of immigration and visa policies, however, these attackers were all admitted to the U.S. through the proper channels.
00:16:09 Did Bill Clinton really have the opportunity to take down Osama Bin Laden and let it go? Did Hillary Clinton actually shake hands with Bin Laden?
On September 10, 2001 - the day before the 9/11 attacks - Bill Clinton said that he had an opportunity to kill Osama bin Laden in a speech to Australian businessmen. He said, “I nearly got him. And I could have killed him, but I would have to destroy a little town called Kandahar in Afghanistan and kill 300 innocent women and children, and then I would have been no better than him. And so I didn’t do it.”
As far as Hillary Clinton and Osama bin Laden shaking hands, this photo has been debunked as a Photoshop job so many times, I don’t have the space to include every link. It wasn’t even designed to cause all this fake news - hilariously, it was part of a Photoshop contest held by the website FreakingNews.com. Like, this could have been public knowledge, but people decided to believe what they wanted and accept this (obviously fake) photo as real.
But don’t take my word for it (or Snopes’s). Here is the (fake) viral photo of Clinton and bin Laden supposedly shaking hands:
And here is the original photo of Clinton shaking hands with Indian musician Shubhashish Mukherjee in 2004:
This is a common conservative claim, and it’s all based on a pretty amateur Photoshop job that was submitted to a contest.
00:17:15 Did Hillary Clinton slander Bernie Sanders and cheat her way to winning the Democratic Primary?
Ashley doesn’t list any specifics here, but since the beginning of our country, political campaigns have blasted their opposing candidates, whether during the primaries or the Presidential election itself. Sometimes the comments are 100% true, and other times, they are mostly or completely false. Any examples I can find seem to be typical accusations made by any politician in a highly publicized election.
Here are three examples of false or mostly false statements Clinton made against Sanders:
And to be fair, here are three examples of false or mostly false statements Sanders made against Clinton:
Ashley said Clinton “cheated her way” to the candidacy, and she insinuated that perhaps the votes were tampered with when she said, “I can’t think of most people who even in the primary, voted for Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders.”
I can’t find any real, substantiated evidence that there was any widespread voter fraud in the 2016 Democratic Primary. There was a paper put out by a couple of Stanford researchers, most likely grad students, that examined states that used a paper ballot system and those that didn’t, and found that states with no “paper trail” were statistically more likely to favor Clinton. Their conclusion was that there was high potential that voter fraud favoring Clinton had occurred, but again, this has not been substantiated.
There is ample evidence that exit polls are a bad way to predict the winner of any US election. I would say that the numbers of people one knows personally who voted one way or another is probably not a reflection of real numbers, especially since, as we all know by now, we live in bubbles.
Did the DNC purposefully hurt Bernie Sanders in order to guarantee a Clinton run for the Presidency? And did the DNC execute the same kind of bias against Hillary Clinton in 2008 to aid Barack Obama?
There was a similar perceived bias in the 2008 Democratic Primary, this time in favor of Barack Obama, but it lacked the sensationalist scandal of leaked emails. The Democratic Party’s rules committee made a decision that damaged Hillary Clinton’s chances at winning that primary.
00:20:45 Have Hillary Clinton’s views on same-sex marriage changed over the course of her political life?
Without question, Hillary Clinton’s public stance on same-sex marriage has evolved from her time in the Senate to the time of her Presidential candidacy. This is notably similar to the way Donald Trump's views on abortion have evolved since before and after his political career began.
00:21:34 Is Misogyny really everywhere?
As a man typing this right now…YES!!!
Women are dealing with misogyny from the moment they wake up until the moment they go to sleep every day. They can’t even be safe from it in their own house, because online misogyny exists in staggering amounts. It's even in music, and not just rap and hip-hop - pop music is guilty of pushing gender stereotypes, too. The extra obstacles women face in running for public office discourage women all over the world from entering politics. Men interrupt women in the workplace more than they interrupt men. Men are congratulated for being ambitious, while women are criticized for it. Women suffer numerous disadvantages in the workplace that men do not, including being offered lower starting salaries, being promoted based on performance whereas men are often promoted based on potential, and being seen as too emotional or too talkative or too aggressive for exhibiting the same behaviors that men are praised for.
00:21:53 Did Bernie Sanders push Hillary Clinton further to the left in her politics and agenda?
00:22:31 What did Donald Trump say about grabbing women by the pussy?
If you’ve read the show notes for Episode 1 and Episode 2, you may note a recurring theme here. Third time’s a charm, they say…so if you really want to see it again...here it is.
00:23:14 Has Donald Trump been talking about running for President since 2000?
He’s actually been flirting with the idea since the late 80s. The 2000 election cycle was arguably his first more serious attempt, due to his joining the Reform Party and outlining actual policies and stances.
00:24:05 How many women have accused Donald Trump of sexual misconduct or assault, and are any of their claims valid?
A lot of conservative sites make claims that the women who came forward about being groped, kissed without permission, or otherwise violated by Donald Trump were lying. I can’t find a single shred of credible evidence to support that, so I’m just going to send you to the NY Times article about Jessica Leeds and Rachel Crooks, as well as these comprehensive lists of all the women who have accused Trump of sexually violating them in myriad ways from Politico, NYMag, Huffington Post, and Mother Jones. If you want to say all of these women are lying to get attention, that’s your prerogative, but I don’t believe it. They have nothing to gain by lying. They are not suing him. They don’t particularly seem like people who are just seeking attention, or they wouldn’t have faded away from the spotlight so quickly. Victims of sexual assault are often shamed and discredited in this way, and I won’t link to sites that engage in that kind of anti-woman behavior.
00:25:11 Where is the University of Michigan Student Life Center article Ashley is reading from?
00:26:02 Where is the Slate article Ashley is reading from?
Also, here is a link to buy the book I recommended, Testosterone Rex, by Cordelia Fine.
00:31:01 Did Donald Trump win an Ellis Island Award? And what’s an Ellis Island Award?
It’s actually called the Ellis Island Medal of Honor, and it’s given out each year to dozens of people who “embody the spirit of America in their salute to tolerance, brotherhood, diversity and patriotism. Honorees may be native-born or naturalized, but most importantly, they are individuals who have made it their mission to share their wealth of knowledge, indomitable courage, boundless compassion, unique talents and selfless generosity with those less fortunate.”
00:31:11 Has there been any substantiated evidence against Donald Trump for his alleged sexual assault against multiple women?
Ashley is right. In terms of the law, there is no proof that has been brought into the public eye. Trump has only been accused of sexual assault. Many times. By many different women. Whose stories reflect a consistent pattern of behavior. (But I’m showing my bias here.)
00:31:42 Did a woman in California try suing Trump twice, only to have the courts reject her claims as having no evidence?
The only highly publicized lawsuit against Donald Trump that relates to a sexual misconduct claim days prior to the inauguration is that of Summer Zervos. In October 2016, she accused Trump of sexually assaulting her at her Beverly Hills hotel in 2007. I cannot find any evidence that charges were actually filed, possibly due to the statute of limitations.
Three days before the inauguration, she filed a defamation suit against Donald Trump. Her argument was that he called her a liar by denying her allegation of sexual assault; hence, defamation. The suit was filed in New York, not California, although Ms. Zervos is a resident of California.
This case is also a bit complicated, with Zervos remaining an admirer of Trump as businessman long after the assault allegedly took place, something she included in her lawsuit against him.
00:32:08 Is rape incredibly hard to prove? Does it really almost always turn into a his-word-against-her-word situation?
The answer is, usually, yes. As shown by multiple major rape cases, victims' credibility is often attacked by our very own judicial system - just look at the case of the rape allegations against Brock Allen Turner, for one tragic example of the justice system working against the rights of women. And here's a harrowing personal account of what rape survivors go through in trying to prove the rape happened.
00:32:49 What Ivanka Trump rape allegation? Did that really happen?
Samia misspoke here and meant to say Ivana Trump, Donald’s first wife, who she refers to later in the conversation.
Did Donald’s ex-wife, Ivana Trump, actually file charges against him for rape, and did she later come out in support of him?
Samia misspoke here, too. Ivana Trump did not file any charges of rape against Donald Trump. She accused him of rape in her divorce deposition. She goes into gruesome detail about the attack, saying how he ripped out chunks of her hair and forced himself on her. She said she spent the night crying in the bathroom, and when she emerged the next morning, he sneered at her and asked, “Does it hurt?” According to her, he was furious because a plastic surgeon she had recommended did a shoddy job on his scalp reduction surgery, which was supposed to remove a bald spot.
She later claimed the story was “without merit” - after walking away with $14,000,000 in the divorce settlement.
00:35:41 Are there really many people that are saying they were raped by random individuals when it isn't true?
It is extremely difficult to cite an accurate percentage of false rape accusations.
BloombergView talks about a so-called “dark number” which they say statisticians define as “there being a true number, but it is unknown, and perhaps unknowable.” The range being shown there is from 2-40%. That’s a HUGE difference in numbers.
Cathy Young from Slate writes an incredibly informative article about the confusing statistics involved in rape accusations, and there is definitely a take-away from it. False rape accusations do exist and sometimes can go as far as landing the accused in prison.
Unfortunately, we may not ever know the true number.
00:38:17 What is rape culture?
The term “rape culture” has a number of slightly different definitions, but they all have one common theme: to normalize or trivialize male domination of women, and a dismissal of rape allegations, usually blaming the victim. Women everywhere are affected by rape culture physically, emotionally, and psychologically. But men are, too, as explained by the data concerning male rape and how it’s essentially an invisible crime in America, which Samia went into in detail earlier in the episode.
00:40:52 Are women better at multitasking?
I think this article says it best. In short, we don’t have enough research on the topic, and any research we do have seems to show conflicting results. There are lots of opinions out there, but none of them seem to be based on much science. It all seems to be based on people’s “personal experience.” This also plays into the arguments made in the book Samia recommended, Testosterone Rex, which collates all the most recent science on the subject of gender and behavior and finds that gender doesn’t really affect behavior in any kind of significant way.
(Personal note here: I realize the show notes are for NON-alternative facts, but I’ve thought about this topic myself when people discuss what they think are the differences between men and women. As a self-proclaimed feminist - and in NO way a scientific expert on this subject - I really do believe that neither the sex assigned at birth or the gender identity has any bearing on one’s ability to multitask. My personal experience would show that it had to do with what types of tasks you are confronted with every day. A woman who is doing her shift as a doctor in an emergency room may show multi-tasking skills that are jaw-dropping. She may come home to her wife or husband, and when attempting to plan their vacation, just answering the phone may throw her off. It’s just not what she does every day. A man that cleans houses for a living may have no trouble doing four or five things at once but that doesn’t mean it started out that way. He could have developed the skills for multitasking after many days or months. Sorry to interrupt the actual facts, but I just felt like throwing that one out there)
00:41:22 Who had more experience and was more qualified to be President of the United States? Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump?
Donald Trump has no government or military experience.
Hillary Clinton worked for the campaign of Democratic presidential nominee George McGovern. She was a member of the presidential impeachment inquiry staff, advising the Judiciary Committee of the House of Representatives during the Watergate Scandal. She worked on Jimmy Carter’s successful campaign for president while her husband was elected attorney general. She was the First Lady of Arkansas for a total of 12 years. She was First Lady of the United States for 8 years. She was elected Senator of New York twice. She ran for President of the United States in 2008, but conceded the primary to Barack Obama, who later won the presidency. Then she was Secretary of State under the Obama administration for 8 years and became the first woman in United States history to top the presidential ticket of a major U.S. political party. And this isn't even a comprehensive list of her accomplishments while in those positions.
You be the judge.
00:42:18 Were Hillary Clinton’s policies more clear than Trump’s during the 2016 campaign?
Regarding providing policy specifics to voters, Donald Trump said, “I am a person who does not necessarily believe in plans that have 14 steps. Because when the second step gets out of whack, you’re screwed. I don’t think the voters care about specifics. I think the press cares, but I’ve never had a voter ask for my policy papers.”
From the Associated Press: “Trump’s campaign has posted just seven policy proposals on his website, totaling just over 9,000 words. There are 38 on [Democratic candidate Hillary] Clinton’s “issues” page, ranging from efforts to cure Alzheimer’s disease to Wall Street and criminal justice reform, and her campaign boasts that it has now released 65 policy fact sheets, totaling 112,735 words.”
00:42:47 What was Hillary Clinton’s message about our country already being great and stronger together?
After winning South Carolina during the primary elections, Hillary Clinton delivered a speech saying, “Despite what you hear, we don't need to make America great again. America has never stopped being great. But we do need to make America whole again. Instead of building walls, we need to be tearing down barriers.”
00:42:56 Was Donald Trump’s message negative?
He said that we have been living in “American carnage.” That American currently is not great and that we must make it that way again. That we are a dream that became a nightmare and need to be woken up.
00:43:02 Did sexism play against Hillary Clinton and for Donald Trump?
00:43:15 What are some example of the sexism women face everyday?
This list could be endless - and also see the question above about how misogyny is everywhere - but to name a few…
Women on average make less money than their male counterparts, despite earning more college and graduate study degrees.
Women that are mothers are less likely to be hired than equally-qualified fathers, and if hired, will receive a lower salary than male applicants with children.
There’s also the glass ceiling effect, in which a woman becomes further disadvantaged in the workplace the higher she climbs the hierarchal ladder, and the disadvantages become worse later in her career.
Women who are overweight are significantly underrepresented among top positions in a company compared to overweight men.
Women are criticized for things that men are not.
Women are interrupted by men more than a man would interrupt another man.
Women are more likely to succeed if they wear makeup. Something that would have no effect on men.
Women are expected by society to change their last name to the man’s, not the opposite.
Women are shamed if they do not desire children.
Women are endlessly catcalled by men. (I would like to point out my disgust at how few sources I was able to find that did not attempt to make a joke out of, make light of, or even blatantly state that woman should deal with and enjoy this rampant form sexual harassment.)
If a man has sex with 100 women, he is labeled a stud or affectionately a “manwhore.” If a woman has sex with 100 men, she is labeled a slut or called nasty or disgusting. (This is a good example of rape culture AND slut shaming!)
Admittedly that was more than a few but it’s still not a complete list.