EPISODE 5: ALLEY MULRAIN PART 1
Transcribed by Dylan Riley and David Sokol
SAMIA VO: This is Make America Relate Again. I’m Samia Mounts.
Welcome back to the pod. Episode 5, holy crap - we’re almost halfway through the season, this is nuts. I wanna give shouts out to all you new listeners who came over after hearing about the show on Risk! Thanks for your support and feedback!
Before we get into this week’s interview, I wanna share a specific piece of feedback from a listener who lives in the Midwest. Her name is Carly, and she’s a liberal who voted for Hillary Clinton. She emailed me after listening to Episode 1. I’m just gonna read you what she wrote:
“I was really enjoying the conversation until you and your guest starting discussing the Electoral College. You made a comment about middle America being uneducated, insinuations that we are bigoted, closed-minded, and basically to be regarded as throw-away people who don't represent America. I take great offense at these judgmental and inaccurate assumptions. New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, or any other large city does not represent America singularly. This country is made of a variety of people, rural people included in that variety. We in the Midwest deserve to have a voice just as much as someone who has never seen a wheat field or a cow (in real life). The blatant disregard for the value persons different from yourself (be that gender, color, ethnicity, economic status, or address) is wrong and, in my opinion, at complete odds with being a generally good person. I was completely with you until you stated that people like me are unimportant. I want to like this podcast and support what you are doing, but I'm having a hard time getting past the elitist urban-centric tone. There are good, openminded, people of all races, economic statuses, genders, sexual preferences, intellectual abilities, and geographic locations. Please, stop insulting those of us who choose to live somewhere other than the coast.”
Hot damn. I wrote her back, saying that I actually almost edited that part of my conversation with Ellen out, out of embarrassment. I knew how elitist I sounded. The reason I left it in is because of how many liberals in big cities think that way, and how quickly Ellen rebuffed me. I deserved to be rebuffed. I felt it was important to show that my thinking was flawed in that regard, and to give Ellen the chance to expose that about me. Because of that moment in my conversation with her, I was forced to reexamine the way I think and speak about rural Americans, and that’s part of how this podcast has been making me a better person.
I thanked Carly for her comments and told her I agreed a hundred percent. I shouldn’t have said that. It was wrong, and I apologize to the people I insulted and offended with that comment.
I also wanna add that while my comments were definitely elitist, my point was that I feel the Electoral College system gives more of a voice to people in less populated states than people in states with large urban centers. Because the Electoral College gives a minimum of three votes to the smallest states, regardless of their population, it means that their votes actually count for more than votes in states like New York and California. Otherwise, an election where one candidate got three million more votes than the other wouldn’t result in the popular vote loser winning the election.
So again, I apologize for the insulting way I talked about people in rural America. That was shitty of me. I do wish our voting system worked so that the popular vote determined the election results, but I didn’t have to insult anyone to make that point. I’m very sorry.
Okay, onward to this week’s interview! It features the first half of my conversation with the funny, grounded, no-bullshit Alley Mulrain, raised in Long Island and now living in New Rochelle, New York. Alley and I have been friends for a little over a year now. We met because I sing in a wedding band - the Joel Krantz Band, for anyone interested in booking amazing live music for your upcoming wedding or event - (I had to, my bandleader listens to this podcast - okay, end of shameless plug) - so I sing in this wedding band with Alley’s boyfriend, Peter, who plays saxophone. Alley herself is a wonderful singer and actor, and honestly, she’s a lot like me. We’re both hustlebitches who’ve made it work in the entertainment industry. We have a similar sense of humor. She’s a super-hottie and has a vibrant personality. I like her a lot. I’m saving the second half of our conversation for later in the season, because we did a great job of keeping things light. I have some heavy stuff coming up for you next week. I wanted to mix it up a bit.
I conducted this interview with Alley on the same day as my Episode 2 interview, with Yolanda Aponte. That was February 15, 2017. It was a nutso day. I went to see Yolanda in Long Island that morning and Alley in Westchester that night. I adore Yolanda, but our conversation left me really shaken, because of how far apart our versions of reality are. Because of that, I ended up talking a ton in this conversation with Alley. I mean, she’s my friend, so it was a much more comfortable situation, and I just kinda went off on long rants about things. Especially the Russia scandal and what we knew about it back in February. You’ll see. For all you liberals who’ve been waiting for me to really say my piece, this is the episode for that.
I go over a lot of stuff that’s already been covered on the show, but Alley’s reactions were very different from any of the other women I’d spoken to. I thought it was worth rehashing some of the issues just so you guys can hear her responses.
The usual disclaimers here - the issues we discuss aren’t current, but that’s not what this show is about. This show is about the human connections that can be formed when people are willing to hear each other out with patience and compassion, instead of tearing each other down for having different opinions. I’ve edited this interview for clarity and time, but was careful not to change the meaning or context. Also, there’s stuff we get wrong. In this episode, there’s probably a ton of stuff I got wrong, or at least a little bit wrong, ‘cause like I said, I just would not stop talking. So if you wanna get the facts, go read the Show Notes for this episode at makeamericarelatepodcast.com. You’ll find detailed fact checks with linked sources embedded in the text.
Also, trigger warning - I discuss Ivana Trump’s rape allegation again in this episode, in some pretty graphic detail. So maybe don’t play it when kids are in earshot.
Okay, let’s get to it.
S: Alley Mulrain.
A: [excitedly] Yeah!
S: Thank you so much for being on the podcast!
A: Oh, you’re very welcome.
S: Now, to give the listeners some background, Alley and I have known each other for a little while. I play in a wedding and event band with her boyfriend, who’s a wonderful saxophone player. And we’re right now recording in his music school that he teaches at, so this is really a cool environment for me as a musician. And Alley is one of my favorite people, just a vibrant, lovely, talented, smart, vivacious person. So again, thank you for being on the show, and I just gave a little bit of an introduction to you. But go ahead, let the listeners know a little more background on you. How old you are, where you grew up, your political leanings?
A: Interesting. Okay, I’m actually 52.
S: You look great, girl.
A: Oh my God!
A: Grew up on Long Island, went to school for music to do a lot of singing, a lot of acting as well now. I’m still doing it, been doing it kinda most of my life. Love it. Politically, it’s interesting, because I grew up in a Republican household. My dad was in business and he was a Republican. So I oftentimes think about that. In terms of, “Was that something in my house and an influence on me as a young girl, and it just sort of stayed with me as a young woman, and an older woman?” Not really sure. I am now mostly Republican, although I poll from both parties and sometimes consider myself an Independent, ‘cause there are certain issues that the Republicans believe in and do that I don’t necessarily a hundred percent agree with, and there’s some liberal issues that I can sort of agree with, as well. Like pro-choice, for one, that comes to my mind very quickly. So—I did vote for Trump, though.
S: So yeah, so let’s talk about it. I would love to know the issues that you don’t agree with in regards to the Republican Party and what made you vote for Trump, anyway. Or, if that was phrased wrong, what were your reasons voting for Donald Trump, and also, what were the caveats?
A: Okay, well, I don’t like how the country has been and where it was headed for the last eight years under Mr. Obama, and then Hillary’s reign, had she been elected. I thought the economy was terrible, I didn’t necessarily agree with Obamacare. I think my number one reason for Trump was I really appreciated the fact that he wanted to protect the country and he wanted to get a lot of jobs back. I was very, very, very affected and very depressed by 9/11. I lived in Jersey City at the time, right across from the Towers, and I could see, every day, the smoke coming across the water. And I literally laid on my couch for about three weeks, sobbing. I was very, very, very, like I said, upset, angry, moved. I almost felt like putting on fatigues. I called my dad up the next day, after it happened, and said, “I’m so pissed off and so upset, I feel like putting fatigues on and, like, volunteering to go over and do something about this. So the idea that Trump is very, very—with the border thing—the security with people coming into the country and the vetting and all that is something I strongly believe in. For the safety, that’s a big concern of mine, especially as of late ‘cause there’s been—it hasn’t stopped, I just think it’s been getting worse. The bombings and the shootings and a lot of people that are shady, and are not really here, I think, believe in their hearts to be Americans, I think they’re here to take advantage, and that upsets me greatly. I love people coming in and contributing, in some way, to America. But I don’t like the feeling that they’re here taking and threatening.
S: The majority of the terrorist attacks that have happened in this century have been executed by U.S. citizens. Homegrown terrorists, if you will. That’s something that a lot of people don’t know or realize. It’s very easy to see the foreigner coming into our country and, you know, attacking us and taking advantage, as you said. But the numbers don’t actually support that.
SAMIA VO: Hey, since this is the episode where I talk a lot, I just wanna cut in here real quick to tell you something important. A few of my liberal listeners have pointed out that I’ve never specifically discussed the fact that right-wing terrorism committed by US citizens is considered to be as big of a problem as terrorism from foreign individuals and groups. Check this episode’s page on the website, makeamericarelatepodcast.com, for links to articles that run down the numbers on this for you, but I wanted to put that out there. We literally have just as large a problem with homegrown, right-wing extremist terror attacks as we do with attacks perpetrated by foreigners. And that’s not to say that left-wing extremist terror doesn’t exist - like the shooting at a Republican Congressional baseball game that injured Congressman Steve Scalise - but liberal terrorism doesn’t have nearly the same kind of numbers as right-wing terrorism, at least not these days. Check out the articles I link to on the website for more info. Okay, back to the conversation.
S: What did you think of the recent attempt at a travel ban that was rolled out a few weeks ago and then quickly stopped by the courts?
A: I was initially for it, but then I kind of got upset a little bit about—I think it could’ve been laid out a little bit better.
S: Yeah, I think even the Trump administration realizes that about it at this point.
A: And I think that’s probably a reason why they took it away and reversed it.
S: Well, they didn’t.
S: The courts stayed it. And Trump now faces the decision whether to fight that court staying of the order, like, to fight in court, or to just write a new executive order that’s better worded. So that’s kind of in limbo now, as to what he’s going to do.
A: So at this very moment that we’re talking about this, is it like it was? Where it’s completely open and anybody can come in and out? Or is it—
S: Well, no, it’s never been—it’s never been that way. We have an intense vetting process, especially for people from countries where there’s a lot of terrorist activity. For refugees in particular, they go through a vetting process that lasts an average of twelve to eighteen months, it requires them to be interviewed by multiple intelligence agencies. Also, database screening, where they’re looking through existing records to see if there is any—any indication that they might not be safe to enter our country. So the reason a lot of people on my end were upset with that travel ban, was it effected a lot of people who had already been through that process—
S: —and were deemed by multiple intelligence agencies to be safe. But there didn’t seem to be any consideration of that from the administration.
A: It’s funny you mention that because that wasn’t mentioned at all on the news. And if it was, I didn’t catch it.
S: What news organiz—what news?
A: I watch everything, I watch— [laughs]
S: What are your main ones?
A: Fox, CNN, MSNBC
S: Oh, that’s a good range right there.
A: I do the range.
S: That’s left, right, and center.
A: Yeah, I mean, I’m—like I said, like, I’m not so staunch Republican that I’m just like, “Fox only!” and leave it on all day. No. I get their opinion and then I move along to see and I just try to see what’s going on on both sides. Because I’m a fair person. I think there’s always two sides to a story.
S: Yes, exactly.
A: So I like to do that and I usually do that, you know, if I’m off and I’m home and I’m just doing, you know, stuff around the apartment, I’ll have it on in the background. Sometimes I’ll actually sit and watch, really, really watch and try to learn. But it’s usually on a couple of hours a day and I’m absorbing something. Even today, the live thing with Trump with the Israel Prime Minister. I was watching that live this morning.
S: I was listening to a little bit of that as it was reported on NPR.
A: I listen to that sometimes [laughs] when I’m driving.
S: Yeah, me too. One of my best friends is Palestinian. So for Trump to say that the U.S. is now considering backing away from its long held policy that establishing a Palestinian state was gonna be part of the solution to peace in that region. For him to back away from that now and say he likes the one-state solution breaks my heart on behalf of her.
A: Is she—she’s there? Or is she here?
S: She’s here. She got her letter from the government scheduling her citizenship interview—
S: —the day before the inauguration.
A: Oh wow.
S: And she’s been a green card holder for years. She’s been living in this country for twenty years.
A: That’s a long time. [laughs]
S: And she’s fin—yeah, she’s been in the system actually since 1990. She came here as a child, then they had to leave, and then her family was able to come back. She’s been here since, I think, ‘96 trying to get citizenship this entire time, finally got it. That’s how hard it is!
S: It’s really, really difficult. She’s an actor and a singer as well. You’d love her. This is her people who have been displaced for decades and it’s heartbreaking.
A: It is.
S: It’s heartbreaking to see us turning our back on this group of people because we, you know, because Donald Trump wants to have this relationship with Netanyahu. It’s disheartening for people who think the way I do. So I’m going to give you a chance to ask me a question now.
S: I’ll offer my opinions all day long, but I wanna actually tell you things that you actually want to know, so…
A: Regarding Hillary and all of those emails and all of that stuff on her hidden emails or her hidden server, however they worded it. What did you feel about that? Did you think in your heart of hearts that she was hiding something? Do you think she was just thinking it was no big deal? What is your take on that and how do you think—I don’t even know where they are. I mean, did they drop the prosecution? That’s another question. Are they still digging with that or did they leave that alone now? I don’t know. It was a big hot topic, right, during the election period and now you don’t really hear about it too much anymore.
S: And that’s indicative of—
A: Yeah, I know.
S: —what I think the motivation behind all that was.
S: So always saw the email scandal, and for listeners, I’m doing air-quotes around the word “scandal.”
S: I always saw it as a politically motivated endeavor. When they sifted through all of the emails, they looked, and looked, and looked, and tried to find any incidences of her actually compromising national security, and there weren’t any. There were instances of information marked “confidential,” that shouldn’t have been sent on that server, but there’s also been reporting that almost everything gets marked as confidential when you’re the Secretary of State.
S: So they couldn’t find anything with which to actually prosecute her, the most they could do was call her “careless.”
S: I don’t think that that would have ever become a thing if she wasn’t running for President. I don’t think that would have been a thing if she was a man.
S: And honestly, the best analysis I’ve heard about it came from my dad, who served both in the Air Force, and then as a—
A: My dad was in the Army!
S: Oh, awesome!
S: He was in the Air Force for twenty-five or thirty years—
S: And then he also served as a high-ranking civilian official working with the Armed Forces in Seoul, Korea, for years. And he’s been extremely active in politics his entire life. He’s retired now and he’s, like, running for local office. I love my dad.
S: But he gave me the best analysis I’ve heard so far, which was essentially that her staff let her down in this situation.
S: That she should’ve been told, “Yo, ya can’t do this. It could get you in trouble, it’s not the biggest deal in the world, but we need to do things right.”
A: But it’s a red flag-y kind of thing.
A: Yeah, yeah.
S: And nobody ever did that. As far as we know, no one ever actually advised her. She got advice from Colin Powell, she did this thing for the sake of convenience, she liked to be on her Blackberry and get business done in one place. So yeah, that’s my take on the Hillary email scandal, I didn’t think it was a scandal, I thought it was a politically motivated attack.
A: Well, part of the reason that I kind of thought it was a little fishy is because, if I can just tell you from my heart and my gut, there’s just something about her that to me rings “fake,” and I don’t believe her. I almost voted for Trump because I didn’t want Hillary to be the President.
S: A lot of people did.
A: And that’s horrible to say, but it’s how I felt.
S: I can relate with you on that.
S: I went through a period during the primaries when it was, you know, Hillary or Bernie, where I felt the same way. Like, I remember having a conversation with a friend where I was like, “I don’t know, I just feel like she’s, like, this shifty Claire Underwood”—
S: —like from House of Cards—“kind of character. And like, I don’t trust her, I don’t know if she’s out for the good of the people.” And then I realized I was saying these things from a place of really, like, poor information. So I started to doing a lot of research on her background, on her career as a whole. I started listening to more of the speeches she’s given, and really, really looking into her. The more I did that, the more I saw a picture of a woman who has never been as charismatic as her husband, who’s always had to really force herself to do the things that politicians are supposed to do. But behind all of that was a really studious, hard-working woman, who really actually wanted to fight to make a better world.
S: But I started to reinterpret my initial thoughts of, like, “I don’t know if I can trust her,” into, “I think that she’s giving off this vibe because there is an inauthenticity there, but it’s not”—to me anyway—
A: Okay, yeah, this is an interesting take on this, because—
S: I think the inauthenticity is that the trappings of being a politician in the public sphere don’t come naturally to her.
S: And so people get this vibe like they can’t trust what they’re seeing because—
A: It’s coming off—
S: —because they can’t! Because that’s not her comfortable place. But it’s not that they can’t trust what she’s saying or what she’s gonna do for the country. And I’ve heard a lot—you know, all of the people that I have spoken to for the podcast so far, list the same things that you do as to why they voted for Trump.
A: Oh! Yeah.
S: It’s always jobs, national security, and—
A: And I like—I love his straight-forwardness, I love his no bullshit—may I say bullshit on the—? Umm… [laughs]
S: You can say—yeah! This is a cursing zone right up in here! [laughs]
A: I’m that type of…”cursing zone”…I’ll try not to drop any F-bombs, but—
S: [laughs] You can drop an F-bomb or two, it’s okay. [laughs]
A: I’m kind of that type of person, too. I have a tendency to be attracted to people that are very straightforward.
A: And I—that was a quality that he had, has, I should say has, that I like. Sometimes, I think he makes an ass out of himself.
A: There was some certain things, I was like, “What are you doing? What are you saying?”
S: Which were the things? What were the big ones for you?
A: Oh…ummm? What were the big ones for me?
S: I mean, I can probably guess, but…
A: Sometimes he’s just really buffoonish, or he’ll—when he’s in an interview and they’re asking questions and he’s, like, really, like, kind of nasty to, like, the interviewers, and that kind of behavior—it doesn’t jive with me, and I wish—that’s why I just sit back on the couch and go, “Oh god, why does he have to act like that?” Even the Republicans are like, “He’s not exactly acting Presidential today, but…” So I get a little squirmy when I see—I think he could use a little tweaking. I think he’s getting better though. I think it was worse, don’t you—well…
A: I think it was worse before he was elected.
S: You’re probably right. He’s starting to run into the realities of what it means to hold this office.
S: And he’s been struck down, repeatedly [laughs] for the missteps that have taken place, and the White House leaks have been—I mean, have you been paying attention to these White House leaks? The New York Times and The Washington Post have both published their own stories on the leaks coming out of the White House from staffers. Across the board [laughs] the leaks coming out of The White House are painting Trump as irrational, reactionary, childish. He gets obsessive about anything that he feels is an attack on his character, his ego gets involved in things too easily, he—
S: —you know, he focuses on the wrong issues. Like the fact that he kept on touting how big his Electoral College victory was—
A: Right, right.
S: Months after it happened.
A: Yeah, see that—that’s a good example of, like, enough already.
A: Let’s just get to work and take care of the country, you know?
S: But for me, like, I see this man…I’m gonna offer my opinion now.
A: Please do. [laughs]
S: I’ve seen this man be exactly who he is throughout this process. He was who he was before he ran for President, he was who he was during the campaign, and he is who he is now. And it is a consistent portrait of a man who has always had everything but somehow has this deep wellspring of insecurity where he needs lots and lots of praise from lots and lots of people, and he knows just how to push the right buttons to get it. Unfortunately, the ways he goes about it, the way he ran his campaign, for example, was so extraordinarily racist and sexist. I mean, did you see, there was a clip of him at a campaign rally right after he got named Time’s Man of the Year—Person of the Year—and this is a straight video, in context, of him saying to this crowd, “What do you think sounds better ‘Person of the Year’ or ‘Man of the Year?’”
S: “Right? Man of the Year, right? Person of the Year? [pause] MAN of the Year! Yeah, Man of the Year is better.” And it was just like, really? Like, after all of the offenses against women throughout your entire career, guy, from touting the Miss Universe winner who gained a great fifteen pounds in front of press at a gym. And telling everybody what a disgrace it was that she got fat, to all of the women who have come forward saying that he groped them or kissed them without permission.
A: The pussy comment on the bus thing.
S: The access Hollywood video, exactly. I mean, you put it all together, and then you’re actually gonna get up on stage at a campaign rally and talk about how “Man on the Year” is better than “Person of the Year?” Come on! You know?
S: And a lot of this stuff didn’t get circulated beyond the liberal bubble that I live in. ‘Cause I tell people who voted for Trump these things and they’ve never even heard it before, you know, other than the main big stuff that we just listed. Like, that moment at a campaign rally, I think is really significant, because he knew that driving home that message of a man is better than a gender non-specific title.
S: That’s contributing to the sexism that permeates our society. I can’t get behind somebody like that to lead our country. That alone is a deal-breaker for me. If you take away all the other issues, that would be enough for me to be like, “He shouldn’t even be in the running, guys. Like, this guy needs to be given a course on how to treat women.” You’re a very strong, powerful woman.
A: Yeah—thank you!
S: How did you get past that?
A: I didn’t think it was a big deal. I thought it was—like that pussy bus thing, I was like, “Well, you know, that’s how guys talk.” I’m being brutally honest with you.
S: I want the brutal honesty!
A: And I think his wife is lovely. I don’t really believe he’s this—this, misogynistic, as bad as everybody thinks he is. That’s—
S: Accounts of him on the set of The Apprentice speaking to a male contestant in front of a female contestant, and asking the male contestant if he’d fuck her.
A: I didn’t hear that one.
S: That happened.
S: And that’s not an isolated incident. Ivana Trump, his ex-wife, accused him of rape, and then mysteriously backed off after giving a very detailed—
S: —heartbreaking story about how he—he went to a plastic surgeon that she had gone to for some work to get something done with his hair.
S: And it went wrong, he ended up with a bald spot.
S: And he came home furious, and he started pulling her hair out in clumps and then raped her. That was her—
A: I’ve not heard that story.
S: That was her account. It’s in—it’s—
S: You can Google it. That was her account, and then, nobody knows why, but suddenly she backed off on the entire story. And then told the press later that it was completely, “totally without merit,” was the wording she used. “Totally without merit.” Which is highly suspicious to me because you don’t just make up this very detailed story about how your husband was mad at you because this plastic surgeon fucked up his hair, so he tore out your hair and raped you.
A: It’s kind of a wild story.
S: Yeah, it’s not something that you just, like, dream up out of the ether. And this is a man who has a lot of money and could very easily silence an ex-wife by saying, “I’ll destroy you if you try to push this. But if you keep your mouth shut, I’ll give you all this money and you’ll be set for life.” A lot of women are gonna take that deal.
S: It’s things like that, that I just—this is what I’ve heard from other women, is, “Oh, it’s how guys talk, it’s—I don’t believe it!” But there’ve been so many women who’ve come forward with detailed accounts of how he touched them without permission, he groped them inappropriately, he kissed them without permission. He walked in on teenaged pageant contestants while they were naked. This is a pattern of poor, sexually predatory treatment of women.
A: Can I ask you, do you think that’s the reason that’s fueling all of these protests and marches and stuff? With primarily, mostly all women?
S: That’s a big part of it.
A: That’s what I was trying to figure out, yeah.
A: Because that aggravated me a lot, those—I just don’t do—I don’t like protests in any way, shape, or form.
S: I never have either, because I don’t like big crowds but—
A: First of all they fuck up the city when they’re protesting where cars should be. I think you can pretty much—[laughs]—get out of the street, please? People have to go places. Protest in a park. Madonna, for instance, I mean, the—
S: The speech.
A: —the speech where she wanted to go burn down the White House.
S: I was at the Women’s March.
A: It’s like why do you have to—you were there?
S: I was there.
A: You saw her do that live?
A: How’d you get that close?
S: Well, it was on a screen, I was pretty far from where she actually was on the stage.
A: Wow! You protested there.
S: Now, I’ve never been a person who goes to protests because large crowds make me highly uncomfortable.
A: Me too! I’m very crowd-phobic. Yeah, yeah.
S: Yeah. But I decided that one was too important to miss, so I made the trip. Ah—
A: Were there men there?
S: There were plenty of men there.
S: Lots of men. Mmhm. And it was extraordinary, I mean, there were so many people that we couldn’t do the marching route that had been originally planned. And then when they tried to announce a new route, spontaneous marches started just going through the whole city.
S: LIke all over, everywhere! You would walk a few blocks, there’d be another march coming this way, and then a march coming this way, and it was just—it was extraordinary! And yeah, Donald Trump’s personal treatment of women? A big reason for the protest.
S: But also the policy choices. First of all, you said you’re pro-choice?
S: So I actually think Donald Trump—there was a White House staffer leaking things on Twitter, who said he heard Donald Trump say that he actually doesn’t care about abortion because it doesn’t affect him. But he goes with the GOP party line.
A: Mmm. Yeah, yeah.
S: I almost see the GOP as more dangerous than Donald Trump, in some ways, because they are working real hard to defund Planned Parenthood, to make it harder and harder for women to get a legal, safe abortion, this heartbeat bill that they tried to pass—
A: Also, may I say something about Planned Parenthood?
A: On my own personal—I actually have used Planned Parenthood a lot.
S: So have I.
A: For other reasons. For, “Hi, I have something funny down there, let me just go get examined.”
S: Right. Right.
A: I’m all about Planned Parenthood. The first time I went to Planned Parenthood for this kind of thing was in Boston and I’m like, “Oh what a great place!” So that kind of disturbs me. I’m totally on the left side with that.
A: Because that place is a wonderful place for a woman to go and feel safe, and it’s not just about abortion.
A: That’s the part that, like, no. Do your research on that.
A: They’re not, you know, just killing babies. They’re not doing that. They’re doing, you know—
S: But a vote for a Republican President, no matter who they are, even if it was Condoleezza Rice, is still a vote to end Planned Parenthood, because that is their agenda. That’s what they want to do, unfortunately. And I’m not putting that on you, but, you know, to be honest, actually, this is a good segue, so I’ve been trying to figure out the right way to have these conversations so that they’re as useful as can be, not only for us personally, but for the listeners. People on the left, and I’m going off of my friends, and, you know, my Facebook feed, which is very liberal. They get angry and emotional—
S: —because they see these issues like Planned Parenthood, like LGBTQ rights—
S: —women’s rights in general, healthcare, Islamophobia, as well, anti-Muslim—
A: Oh, I’ve never heard it put that way, wow.
S: Anti-Muslim sentiment. They see these things as deal-breakers. They see a vote, and I’m saying they, but it’s a we thing, because I’m guilty of this kind of thinking, too. We see a vote for Donald Trump as a vote for all of that stuff as well.
S: And I know that not everybody who voted for him necessarily feels that way. You certainly don’t, I’ve talked to one other woman who certainly didn’t. But just because you’re not a racist and you support Planned Parenthood, and you’re a feminist, you sold all of that out when you voted for this guy. That’s where a lot of the furor on the left is coming from.
A: I know, I’ve seen that on Facebook.
S: Yeah, and I know it can be hurtful.
A: I know Peter told you, but I’ve actually been, like—I’ve been blasted and cursed at and de-friended because of my opinion.
A: Which is like, really, like, really? Like, you’re not gonna be friends with me anymore because I didn’t vote for Hillary? Like, come on, you were never my friend. But yes, exactly that is the tone.
S: That’s the tone.
S: And I’m very aware of it. And so I’m really trying—[sigh]—Hillary Clinton would’ve done a very good job of National Security. We already have an intense vetting process for immigrants, it’s very hard to get into this country legally. We don’t have a grand border wall that you can see from space, but we have very high fences, we’ve got border patrols. Obama actually deported 400,000 illegal immigrants in his time in office, which was more than George W. Bush. There’s already all of these systems in place to decrease illegal immigration, to get especially illegal immigrants that are violent criminals out of the country as quickly as possible, to vet people from countries with terrorist organizations, to make sure refugees coming in are safe refugees. All of these things are already in place. Hillary Clinton served as Secretary of State, so she knows national security issues better than anybody right now. I always wonder, like, what about Donald Trump’s bluster and experience as a real estate mogul made people think that he was gonna do a better job than somebody who had spent her entire life in public service and served as Secretary of State? She’s got the experience and the qualifications and he’s just got, “I’m the law and order guy.”
A: Right, and I’ve heard that argument before that she has so much experience, yes, and that’s very, very true. But again, I think that people that voted for Donald Trump did not want—whatever was going on for the last eight years, they were unhappy with it. I don’t think a lot of people felt safe. I really lost a lot of money over the last eight years, a lot of my actor friends, in terms of economy, there’s not a lot of jobs anymore, even in the entertainment business, that used to be there. I just felt like something stronger needed to be done with the terrorist stuff, I just feel like there’s a lot of stuff that we’re not told, there’s a lot of stuff going on, there’s got to be a better way to control this.
S: Obama killed Bin Laden. [laughs] Obama caught and killed Bin Laden. He cut the unemployment rate in half, he took the economy from the Great Recession, the worst place it’s been in recent times, to where it is now. A lot of things improved during the Obama years. That’s another thing I’m really confused about because this is what I’ve heard over and over again from people who voted for Trump. That everything was—
A: I think recessions are also cyclical, too. Like, I think, from what I learned, from what I remember about—in economics, it’s usually like two or three years and then the system will turn around. I just don’t think he did enough. I think if he was a stronger president, Hillary would have been voted in. I think his legacy of not doing enough propelled people, like myself, to go with Donald Trump. A lot of those people in the Midwest, those factory people, and all those people that wanted change and wanted quote-unquote make America great, I know it’s ad nauseum, that slogan, but really felt like the country was going down the toilet, and Trump has that “‘winning” thing and that leadership, and he is a wonderful businessman. I think he is successful because he made himself successful. I don’t think he was born into it. I think he worked very hard to get where he is.
S: He literally was born into it. His father Fred Trump was a real estate mogul who gave him a shit-ton of money, and then he bankrupted a bunch of businesses, and his dad had to repeatedly bail him out until finally he caught some footholds somewhere, but throughout his career, he’s been plagued by lawsuits from contractors who never got paid after doing work for him.
A: I heard about that.
S: And then, you know, the Trump University thing, but he’s not a self-made man, he was born to one of the richest men in New York City.
A: Well, I think that’s a good place to start, but I don’t think you could stay successful unless you’re actually, you know, working hard to stay successful.
S: If you got enough capital behind you, you can—literally, if you’ve got enough money behind you, you can take some of it and put it in investments that just continually bring you more money, while you do whatever with the rest of it. That’s how the very rich stay very rich. When you have a lot of money, it’s really easy to keep having a lot of money. He was born into a lot of money. He was given everything. It’s funny to me that you said that, because it shows that his attempt to frame himself as this blue collar guy, this, you know, “every-man” of America really worked! But he’s not that at all. I mean, you wanna talk about coastal elites, there’s nobody more coastal elite than Donald Trump, born and raised in New York City in the best penthouses. I mean, literally a silver spoon and gold plated toilets. He is the quintessential coastal elite. Whereas Hillary Clinton was the daughter of a small business owner. You know, she actually made herself. Donald Trump? I mean, sure, I’m sure he’s worked. He’s headed up a real estate empire. He’s done that. But he started with so many legs up above everybody else in the world. He was never gonna fuck it up so badly that he didn’t have money.
A: Do you think he cares about this country?
S: No, I think he cares about power and adoration.
S: I think that’s gonna be revealed in the coming months. But no, I don’t think he cares about this country, about making it a better place for all Americans. I don’t think he cares about that at all. I think he likes the attention. I think he likes the power. And he likes money. How well versed are you in the whole Russian interference in the election thing?
A: Well, I’m not really sure I understand how it would technically work? I don’t think it’s a bad thing if we’re friends with Russia. I think that’s probably a good thing.
S: But what’s your base of knowledge about the interference in the election, all of the news developments over the last two days about the Trump campaign ties to Russia, like—
A: Yeah, I’ve heard that and I’m—it confuses me a little bit, because I don’t understand practically how that could have happened.
S: Okay, I’ll give you a rundown of what my understanding of the situation is as of now.
A: Okay. Okay.
S: I’ll do my best to get this right. So we found out a couple months ago that intelligence agencies were in consensus that Russia actively interfered in the election to help Donald Trump.
S: Then there was this dossier that Buzzfeed published. A 35-page, I think, [laughs] dossier? Listeners, I am repeating these details off the top of my head, so if I get them wrong, I am sorry. Fact checking will be in the show notes, so check there. If you’re mad at me and if I miss anything in the fact checks, feel free to email me, I’ll add it.
S: A 35-page dossier, it was like something out of a spy novel. It was compiled by this ex-British intelligence agent named Christopher Steele. I swear to God, you can’t write this shit.
S: Christopher Steele, very highly regarded, great track record, well respected in the intelligence community. He was originally working for Republicans trying to get dirt on Donald Trump to stop him from being the Republican candidate.
S: Then he became the Republican candidate, and now suddenly Democrats were like, “Hey, Chris Steele, we want you to keep doing what you’re doing because now we need to take him down.” So he kept on collecting this information, using sources within the Russian government that he had access to as a former British spy. Compiled this dossier. The dossier includes references to salacious videos that the Russian government got of Trump in a hotel room with a bunch of prostitutes that they could use to blackmail him, and it also detailed a collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government in the Russian interference in the election. Meaning Trump’s campaign staff, his top aides, knew that Russia was interfering and were actively working with them. That’s treason, right? So that’s what the dossier said. But the dossier, when it was published by Buzzfeed, was completely unverified, so everybody was like “ehhh.”
A: Nah. Right. Right, right.
S: The Times, the Post, they were like, “We’re not gonna publish this, it’s not verified.” An investigation, meanwhile, has been going on quietly behind the scenes, and every week we get a little more information. So what just got released in the last couple of days: Mike Flynn, who Trump named National Security Advisor had to resign after only 24 days on the job, because it was discovered that before the inauguration, he discussed sanctions against Russia with the Russian Ambassador, which he should not have done, i.e. saying, “Don’t worry, the second we’re in office, we’re gonna take these sanctions off of you guys.” Shouldn’t’ve done that, can’t do that, that’s illegal. So he had to resign because of that. Now the New York Times is reporting as of yesterday or this morning—today is February 15, 2017—that the intelligence community has gathered evidence that there were multiple points of contact between the Trump campaign—
S: —during the campaign—and Russian intelligence officials. And this is coming from wiretaps that our government has on Russian intelligence officials as a matter of just general operations. We wiretap them, because they’re such a dangerous country. So we have access to the Russian sides of the conversations but not the American side, because our intelligence agency doesn’t tap Americans unless there’s a warrant issued for that, and they were never able to get that. So they have one side of the conversation. They’re trying to figure out now—was the Trump campaign actively colluding with the Russian government? So that is still up in the air. As of now, we don’t have that evidence. But there’s all of these little pieces coming into play. On top of all that, right after the Buzzfeed dossier was released, that British spy who put it together? Fuckin’ disappeared! With his whole family. Just gone. He just disappeared.
A: I didn’t hear that piece, wow.
S: Which for a lot of people like me gave a little bit of credibility to this unverified dossier, ‘cause it’s like, why would this guy disappear himself if he didn’t feel like he was in danger? At the same time, right after that dossier was released, two bigwigs in the Russian intelligence community also got disappeared by the Russian government. We’re talking the guy in charge of, like, cyber-security for the Russian government was in a meeting when two guys came in, put a bag over his head, tied it up at the neck, and dragged him out kicking and screaming. No one’s seen him since.
A: How did—where did—where was this—where was this—?
S: It was reported in Russia by their only independently owned newspaper. Which has lost reporters to murder. The same way Putin’s political opponents get murdered, so do reporters who try to report on the facts in Russia. So when you talk about wanting to be friends with Russia—god, it would be great if Russia was, like, this awesome democracy that we could be allied—allies with, that would be wonderful, but they’re not. Russia’s an autocracy masquerading as a democracy. Putin has set it up so that nobody else can win an election against him. All of the mainstream media in that country is sponsored by the government and censored heavily. Media outlets that try to do their own thing lose their reporters to mysterious murders. And not to mention the human rights violations: invading Ukraine, Crimea, what they’ve done in Syria. Russia’s not our friend not because Obama and Putin didn’t get along. Russia’s not our friend because Russia is antithetical to American values. They’re a violator of human rights. Their version of democracy enslaves their people and enfeebles their economy. Meanwhile, Vladamir Putin is one of the richest men in the world—
S: —because he steals from his people. So you’ve got all of that going on. I know this is longwinded, but it’s a fun story to tell.
A: No! I didn’t hear about these disappearances, this is interesting, wow.
S: And you can fact check all of this. I promise you I’ve got good—I’ve gotten all of this information from very good sources. Add to all of that the whole oil thing. So Exxon-Mobil brokered a deal in Russia for something like this insane amount of oil-rich land. But the only real way to get the oil out of this oil-rich land was to run a pipeline through Ukraine. This happened a while ago. It led to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. It was about oil. Rex Tillerson was the guy who brokered this deal for these oil fields that Exxon has only been able to use a small portion of the oil from because of the inability to build this pipeline that they need. Now, Rex Tillerson is Secretary of State and the Trump administration is talking about taking all sanctions off of Russia. Then they could build a pipeline and they could get all this oil.
S: It’s very suspicious to me. I mean, there’s not even an iota of this same amount of corruption scandal surrounding the Clintons as there is when you put all the pieces together connecting Trump with Russia. His cabinet picks, I mean, the distractions we constantly get everyday with the shocking things him and his aides say. It really looks like a plot to get oil from Russia, to team up with an autocratic government that violates human rights, so that they can put more money into their own pockets. That is the scariest part of the Trump administration to me and many others. Then you’ve got policy on top of all of that which I think is going to take our country down.
S: Now I’ve told you this long story, and I can tell that you’re processing the information.
A: I’m processing, yeah.
S: And that you wanna probably go and look it all up.
A: Yeah, I wouldn’t even know what source would be better than another source. I do want to look it up. Can I write this down?
S: Yeah please! Write down everything. What I would do is go to a few different places in order to get that.
S: So the New York Times is a credible source, I would just avoid their opinion articles.
S: The opinion articles are really easy to mix up with the straight reporting articles. If you just look at the straight reporting, it’s very much down the middle. If you look at the opinions, they lean left.
S: Every now and then, they publish a right-leaning opinion article in the Times, but it’s a lot of left. So don’t look at the opinions. But the New York Times, the Washington Post, watch the Rachel Maddow Show. She’s reporting on this heavily.
A: Yeah, I know her. I’m not a big fan, but yeah. [laughs]
S: I am a huge fan of Rachel Maddow. She has a way of putting things into historical context that is truly enlightening and her sources are good. And when she’s wrong about something—
A: Maybe I’ll give her a second chance. Yeah.
S: Just look up Rachel Maddow talks about Trump and Russia and just find individual video clips and you’ll see—
S: —a little bit of what I’m talking about here. And NPR. NPR is a great source for very fair reporting.
A: I do that.
A: The NPR thing, yeah.
S: But this information is all out there. It’s being reported on heavily, except by Fox News. But everybody else is reporting on this stuff and some more cautiously than others. How do you—how does that make you feel, like, hearing that whole saga? Like, and I know you have an—
A: It makes me feel very uncomfortable, but I don’t have a problem with it, if it’s going to build up America in terms of…how do I say it? I don’t have a problem with America being a powerful country.
S: We are a powerful country.
A: And being on top, if you will, in terms of a lot of different things like business and all that. I think that’s good for everyone. So that doesn’t scare me. It confuses me a little because I’m not really sure about it, but I want to see what’s going to happen.
S: I think that’s fair.
A: That’s the, you know—when people start, like, ragging on Trump, I said, “You know, Christ’s sake, the guy’s just gotta…why don’t you give the guy six months?” I don’t even say a year. I’m like, “Give him six months, let’s see what happens.” It’s like everybody’s already not wanting him to do well and that really pisses me off too.
A: As much as people dislike him, I mean, give the guy a chance. And if things start looking really bleak and bad, I’ll sit with you here in six months and I’ll discuss it all once again. But I mean, I don’t think it’s fair for anybody to do that. If Hillary won, I’d give her a chance, too. So that kind of pisses me off. I think it’s almost like the liberal way or the highway. And I have a personal friend that’s an actor that does the show with me in the city who used to work for Donald Trump. He was his personal bodyguard and his driver and babysat his children. And he’s an actor. And we have these discussions backstage before we go on, they’re lighthearted and—but he said nothing but nice things about—he said, “He’s such a nice man, he’s a great man, he’s wonderful with his family. He was lovely to me, he’s kind to people,” Like, I hear opposite things and this is a guy that worked for him for, like, twenty years, and I trust this guy. I don’t want to say his name, because he probably wouldn’t want me to say it, but he’s an actor, he’s become a friend, and he has nothing but wonderful things to say about Trump as a person, which makes me feel good. It kind of restores my confidence a little bit about all the negatives.
S: Well, that goes directly against a lot of the other reports—
S: —of people who have worked with him and for him that have been public about his—
A: I know, I know, that’s when you were saying that before, I was like, okay!
S: I haven’t seen much—much in the way of positive things about his general character even from people who support him. I have a few questions for you.
S: What do you think of Steve Bannon? Honestly.
A: Honestly? [grumbles] I—he scares me a little bit.
S: If you had your way, would he be a top advisor? Or would he be out?
A: I don’t think I—I think there would probably be a better person than him.
S: What about Kellyanne Conway?
A: I love her!
A: Yes, I do!
S: With her “alternative facts?”
A: Well, I won’t say love, but I don’t know, I like her. I think they’re a good team.
S: You’re the first person I’ve heard say that.
A: [gasp] I know and she gets made fun of on SNL!
A: SNL’s really gotta come up with some different sketches because I’m getting so—this Trump bashing is tired.
S: Well, it’s gotta be hard for somebody who voted for him, I’ll give you that. [laughs]
A: I don’t—no, I don’t wanna say love her. I like her a lot. I think she’s—I think she’s a lot like him. I think they make a good team. I think she’s bright, I think she’s also no-bullshit. I just mean in terms of straightforwardness.
S: I just made a face that stopped everything!
A: You dislike her that much? Wow!
S: She doesn’t answer questions. She spins everything to make Donald Trump look like he can do no wrong, even in the face of, like, really obvious wrongdoing. Her phrase “alternative facts” really triggered something in a lot of us liberals who grew up reading 1984.
A: Yeah, they’ve been making that connection, too, lately, the 1984 thing, which is, like, so extreme.
S: Well, there’s a reason for it.
A: It’s so extreme.
S: It’s not extreme when you’ve got a spokesperson for the President who is saying there’s such a thing as an “alternative fact.” She was referring to Sean Spicer spouting completely false numbers involving the amount of people who were at the inauguration versus the amount of people at the Women’s March.
A: Oh yeah, that whole thing. Yeah, yeah.
S: So like, what he said were lies. I don’t know if he knew they were lies when he was saying them, or if it was just a piece of paper they handed him and said, “Read this at the press conference.”
S: So i’m not gonna say Sean Spicer’s a liar. I kind of feel bad for the guy, but what he said wasn’t true. And it was easy to check that it wasn’t true. And then Kellyanne Conway gets up there, and goes, “Sean Spicer was giving alternative facts.” There’s no fuckin’ such thing as alternative facts, lady, there are facts.
A: There’s—or not facts, yeah.
S: There’s facts. And, you know, and the guy she was speaking to, the host of that show, who was it? I forget. But, you know, he was like, “Uhh, alternative facts are falsehoods.”
A: Right. Right.
S: So like, that’s just one example. I also, if you’re interested, now, you don’t like Rachel Maddow, but you like Kellyanne Conway—
A: I do.
S: —and I feel the reverse of that. Rachel Maddow did an interview with Kellyanne Conway on her show.
S: And it was the entire—it was, like, 45 minutes, it was amazing! You gotta go listen to it.
A: Okay that—when was this? Was this recent?
S: This was pretty recent.
S: I wanna say it was probably sometime in December or January.
A: Okay. So just, like, google Rachel Maddow interviewing…
A: Yeah I like Kellyanne, I really do.
S: That interview with Rachel and Kellyanne—
S: —inspired me to make this podcast.
A: Do this—really?
S: Yeah. It really did.
A: Oh, now I really gotta listen to it.
S: Because nobody rips into the Trump administration and Kellyanne Conway harder than Rachel Maddow, but she invited her onto her show, and they had a perfectly civil discussion. They talked to each other like people. Rachel Maddow is great at speaking with respect and keeping things courteous, and even compassionate and humorous, if you will. Even when she’s talking to people that, like, she’ll shred to pieces when she’s just solo on her show. And I thought it was a brilliant display of a master interviewer and also two people who definitely are on opposite sides of a fight, being able to come together and have a conversation and keep it civil. So I think you’ll enjoy it.
A: I will do that.
A: I think that’s gonna be the first thing I’m gonna do.
S: It’s a good interview.
A: Oh, you know what—
S: —so you don’t like Steve Bannon and you do like Kellyanne Conway. Okay, alright, alright.
A: And I really like Donald Trump’s family. I think his children are very smart and bright. And it’s really pissing me off that everybody doesn’t wanna buy whats-her-name’s clothes anymore. I think that’s really childish and stupid.
S: I’ve never bought an Ivanka Trump branded thing in my life.
A: Well not, I don’t either, but like, the urban…what’s the other thing, the urban…? No, the…Under Armour? Was that—was that the brand?
S: Is there a boycott against Under Armour?
S: I didn’t hear about this one. I know there’s a lot of boycotts going on.
A: Yeah, there’s an Uber one, right?
S: Oh yeah, I thought—
A: Was it a Nike? I think Nike was another one.
S: There’s a list of—there’s actually a—it’s called the Injustice Boycott, and there’s a list of companies.
A: Is that what it’s called, the—yeah.
S: The Injustice Boycott.
A: I just think that’s really kinda—kinda stupid. I mean—
S: People feel like they don’t have any political—okay, we are dealing with a country that is completely in control of the Republican party. And if you don’t agree with the Republican party and their agenda, there’s very little that you can do. You can call your representatives all day long. I can’t get through to Chuck Schumer or Kirsten Gillibrand to save my life.
S: Their phone lines never let me through. I can get through to my Congresswoman, but she already agrees with everything I want.
A: Do you actually leave voicemails for them?
S: I can’t! It won’t even go to voicemail with those two.
A: So that’s why you do—you do stuff like protest.
S: I mean, you have to make your voice heard somehow, and one way to make your voice heard is with your dollars. So people on the liberal side, as loud as we may be and as frustrated as the conservatives might be with the liberal snowflakes and the liberal whiners, we don’t have power right now. We have to—we have to exercise some kind of form of political power and using our wallets is one way to do it.
A: Do you think protests accomplish anything?
S: Absolutely they do! We wouldn’t have had the Civil Rights Act if it wasn’t for protests. We wouldn’t have had women gaining the ability to vote if it wasn’t for protests. Social change requires massive effort. The masses of people who wanna see change are not heard unless they come together and get really loud all at the same time. Because the masses don’t have money and don’t have power.
A: It’s a shame there’s not a better way that their voice can be heard, then, ‘cause I—it doesn’t seem likes it’s—I don’t know if it’s doing anything. Are they listening, or are they just being like, “Oh, fucking protesters again, whatever. Walk over them.” I mean, is it really working?
S: Well, the Standing Rock protest. You’ve heard about that? The Dakota Access Pipeline?
A: No. I didn’t hear about that protest.
S: So, aw man…
S: So this gets into oil companies and climate change and the environment and all that jazz. So there is a group of Native Americans in Standing Rock. [stage whispers] Is it South Dakota or North Dakota?
S: Forgive me, listeners, that I can’t remember if it’s South Dakota or North Dakota, but it’s one of the Dakotas. They’ve been camped out on this construction site for months.
S: Protests—literally camped out through the winter, for months—protesting the construction of a pipeline that’s going to threaten the water supply from the Mississippi River which they depend on. Everyone knows that pipelines leak, pipelines spill. This is a known risk. It’s a matter of time before pipelines leak and spill, and it causes great environmental damage. Oil companies are okay with that, because they care about their bottom line. And spills, while they suck and hurt the environment, don’t affect the bottom line of an oil company as much as—
A: Even with today’s technology, they—you say they spill, they still spill? What causes that?
S: They’re accidents, they don’t happen on purpose, but pipelines spill. There was just another one in Canada that fucked over an entire town of people who now have no drinking water. So these Native Americans who are like, “Yo, y’all already took all our land, like, put us on this reservation and our lives fuckin’ suck now. And now you wanna, like, threaten the place where we get clean drinking water? Are you fucking kidding me? No.” So they’ve camped out all winter, they’ve been protesting this thing, and towards the end of the year, a big victory happened. Activists flooded the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers with phone calls begging them to stop construction of the pipeline. And they did!
S: And the only reason it’s moving forward again now is ‘cause Trump’s in office, and he signed an executive order to continue the building of the Dakota Access Pipeline. There are still protesters there.
A: Still? God!
S: And now it’s like, “What do we do?” The Injustice Boycott is run by the same people who have helped organize the Standing Rock protests. We all want a better country.
A: Yes. We are in agreement there.
A: We want a safer, better, economically fierce country.
S: Yes! But there are disagreements as to what the current state of things is.
A: Yes, I agree with that.
S: And there are disagreements.
A: I agree to disagree…oh, that’s funny! Go ahead. Sorry. [laughs]
S: Yeah! And there are disagreements about what the right way forward is. You were just saying, like, a while ago that you lost a lot of money in the last few years, you feel the economy has been bad, jobs have been bad. But the general trends show the exact opposite. Everyone’s crediting the current super high with the DOW to Trump being inaugurated—
A: The DOW, yeah, yeah, yeah.
S: —but it was already high. I mean, the reason it broke a record is because it was already in a good place at the end of Obama’s presidency. And what’s mystifying to me is that all of these things happened because of Obama’s policies. He put regulations on big banks to stop them from creating the conditions that created the housing crisis that created the Great Recession.
A: He did.
S: Now, Trump is taking all of those regulations away again. Setting the stage for another economic crisis, and when you’re talking about the economy being cyclical, yeah, it is! Because Republican presidents don’t wanna put regulations on big banks and corporations, allowing them to do whatever they want and then causing economic catastrophe, especially for the little people. And Democratic presidents want to do the opposite. Regulate these people so that they don’t hurt the normal people like you and me. It’s so strange to me, the disconnect between people who voted for Hillary and people who voted for Trump on what even the state of the country is right now.
A: I know, I know. So divided.
S: But, like, the numbers do speak for themselves. So, like, what’s you’re response to that?
A: It goes back to the whole fake news thing. I don’t know how much of those numbers are real and not real.
S: Okay, they’re easy to look up. They’re easy to look up. Look up unemployment at the beginning of Obama and at the end. Look up economy at the beginning of Obama and at the end. Look up Obama’s financial stimulus package, the Dodd-Frank legislation that ended the Great Recession, which is the first thing that Republicans are trying to get repealed. The Affordable Care Act, and I’m not saying it’s perfect, but it did get a lot of my friends on health insurance when they didn’t have it. A lot of my friends. [sigh] Look up these things. Look them up, and I’d love to hear your opinion after you look them up.
A: I’m also, like, I’m not, I’m also, I’ve always been less government. I don’t like—me, as a person, I don’t like rules and regulations, and I don’t like to be—I like to feel like I’m my own.
S: I do, too, girl.
A: I know you do! We share, yeah, but so that’s part of it, too, is like, I—sometimes in my mind when I think Obama and I think liberal, I think more government and I get…the boiling starts. I just can’t.
S: But doesn’t it strike you as ironic that Republican policies talk about smaller government but really, when they enact the policies, it’s less regulations on corporations and more regulations on individual people? They wanna regulate what women can and can’t do with their bodies, they wanna regulate who you can marry, they wanna regulate all of these little aspects of our personal lives, but they don’t want to regulate what giant corporations with a ton of money and power to change the world for the great negative, they don’t wanna regulate them. They don’t wanna regulate the people who led to the Great Recession. But they do wanna regulate our right to get a legal, safe abortion. Has that ever, like, that irony ever struck you? Have you…
A: Yeah, that’s where sometimes I fall, like I said earlier, when we first started this, sometimes I fall, like—
S: We need government regulations on big corporations. Otherwise, the corporations become the government. I see a similar distrust in conservatives and liberals but placed on different—different entities. Conservatives distrust the government. Liberals distrust big corporations.
A: Mmhm. Yeah.
S: In my mind, at least the government is supposed to be looking out for the people. Social programs are supposed to help people. I know that—I know that you’re for a lot of social programs.
S: It’s supposed to lift up the most vulnerable, the poorest, the disabled, you know, it’s supposed to help those people get on equal footing. Veterans, homeless people, immigrants, refugees. When conservatives talk about smaller government, they attack social programs and they also wanna take off all of the laws regulating what corporations can and can’t get away with. I think that sets us up for economic collapse. And also it’s a huge strike against the core of our democracy. The stability—the very stability of our democracy. Our ability to even just sit here and have this conversation. That’s what I see the Republican agenda leading to. I don’t understand why so many people see that same agenda as being something that is gonna look out for the little guy, when historically it never has. I mean, Trump said he was gonna drain the swamp. He hired six former and current Goldman-Sachs executives to be in his top advisory positions. His cabinet is the richest of any presidential cabinet of all time. That’s not draining the swamp. He’s doing the opposite of what he said he was gonna do. I don’t want my fate to be decided by a bunch of people who’ve been given everything their entire lives and have no idea what it’s like to try to survive in the world when you don’t have money and privilege and power. But that’s what’s running our government right now. People who don’t understand what it’s like to be you or me.
A: See, I don’t think of it that way, though. I don’t—
S: Yeah, but how do you think of it?
A: Yeah, well, you’re definitely opening up my eyes and letting me see something in a different way. You’re letting me—you’re presenting different topics in ways I’ve never thought about them before, and I appreciate that and I will definitely look this up and I will think about it more.
S: And same for you to me, and that’s the whole point of this.
A: That’s the whole point of this. Yay!
A: I guess you know what? This might sound awful, but I guess I associate liberalism with weakness and I don’t know why that is. That sort of just came up. I don’t—
A: Yeah. I—
S: But liberalism encompasses the Civil Rights Movement, the Women’s Rights Movement, the Gay Rights Movement. I mean, these are all causes that have been—people have had to struggle and fight and be so strong to push forward.
A: I know that, I don’t know why—I don’t know why I said that, but it feels like that.
S: That’s interesting. That’s an interesting thing.
A: Yeah. I do believe Trump. I mean, he—of course, he wants money, but I don’t think it’s all about him and money. I think—I definitely believe that he wants to make positive changes for the country. I think he cares about people. I do. And again, I’ll be the first one if—to eat my words, as they say.
A: Eat ma words! If the things he says he’s going to do, don’t happen, or go in completely the other direction and that starts happening, you’re gonna see a very pissed off Alley.
SAMIA VO: Man, Alley’s so cool. I really had a blast talking to her, and it pissed me off to hear about how shitty people have been to her because of her politics. She’s a really cool woman. Part 2 of our conversation, which I’ll release later in the season, shows us getting personal and really getting to know each other better. We had hung out a few times before this interview, and we were friends. But recording for the podcast cemented our friendship, and I want you guys to hear that.
But not next week. Next week, we’re gonna change tone entirely. Episode 6 will feature my conversation with a woman we’ll call Melissa. She asked to remain anonymous because of the sensitive subject matter we cover in the episode. She lives in the Bay Area, and she voted for Trump mostly because of one issue: abortion. The thing is…she’s had three abortions herself. Now when I tell my liberal friends this, it makes them roll their eyes and wring their hands. But when you hear the conversation I had with her, your mind may change about the people who are as adamantly anti-abortion as she is. She completely shifted my understanding of the pro-life movement with how heartfelt and genuine she was, how strong her convictions were, and how her life experience convinced her that abortion should never be an option. I disagree with her with every cell in my body, but she was brave, vulnerable, and honest. She was able to make me understand where she’s coming from - she was able to make me understand something I didn’t think I’d ever be able to understand - why she thinks and feels the way she does about abortion. That understanding has changed me. And because of that, I have a lot of love for her.
This week’s #TryPod recommendation is Malcolm Gladwell’s killer podcast Revisionist History, which I’m SO EXCITED just started it’s second season. Last summer, Season 1 blew my mind. I love that guy. He exposes so many inconsistencies in the way we do things in America, and reframes reality in a way I really enjoy and find eye-opening. If you haven’t heard it, go subscribe to Revisionist History right frickin’ now, binge-listen to Season 1, and then get started on Season 2. (Can you tell yet that I’m a huge podcast junkie?)
A million fuzzy thank-yous to Douglass Recording in Brooklyn, for letting me record my intro and outro segments in their gorgeous studio space, to Dylan Riley and David Sokol for transcribing this episode, Andrew Guastella for making the interview audio sound pretty, Christopher Gilroy for editing and mixing it all down, and David Sokol again for compiling and synthesizing the Show Notes.
You can find those Show Notes at makeamericarelatepodcast.com, along with a Contact form to send me any feedback, questions, or comments you have. While you’re there, check out the show’s blog for behind-the-scenes details on what it’s been like to record these interviews. And you can follow the show on Facebook and Twitter at relatepodcast.
Lastly, if you’re digging what this show is about, please please please please please take a moment to leave a five star review on iTunes or in the Apple Podcasts app. It makes a world of difference in getting the show out to a larger audience, so that we can really start making an impact on how people communicate with those they disagree with. I want that so badly - a more patient, compassionate, less hostile American political sphere. Help me push this movement forward. Thanks to all who have left reviews so far, and thanks in advance to those of you plan to do so in the near future! I looooooove your faces!
This has been Make America Relate Again. See you next week.