EPISODE 7: ANNE
Compiled & Synthesized by Samia Mounts
00:05:41 Is a baby viable, meaning it can survive outside the womb, from 24 weeks gestational age and on?
More or less. There is no exact fetal age to guarantee viability, but chances of viability usually begin around 23 weeks and increase with every week a pregnancy advances. Anne was pretty much spot on with this.
00:07:55 What lady on Dr. Phil had seven abortions in a year?
I’m pretty sure it wasn’t all in one year, but there was a woman named Corinne who admitted to having had seven abortions in her life, two of them late-term abortions. It was on an episode of Dr. Phil that focused on narcissistic personalities.
00:09:31 How many women regret having an abortion?
Very few. A study published in PLOS ONE found that 95% of women who have had abortions don’t regret it. The results of that study also showed that “the overwhelming majority of women” thought their decision to terminate their pregnancy was the correct one three years later, and any negative feelings immediately following the procedure decreased over time.
00:10:40 Would the health care bill that passed the House of Representatives in May 2017 knock 23 million Americans off of their health insurance if signed into law?
The American Health Care Act, passed by the House on May 4, 2017, would indeed liberate 23 million Americans from their health insurance plans. Trump himself famously called it “mean.”
That bill is currently headed to the Senate. However, it doesn’t have much chance of passing there, at least not as is, because Senate lawmakers have been busy drafting their own version of a health care reform bill. It’s a slight improvement from the “mean” House bill; only 22 million Americans would lose their health insurance. The Senate has delayed the scheduled vote on this bill, because Senator John McCain was recovering from surgery and couldn’t be there. Without McCain, Senate Republicans do not have the votes to pass the bill. It’s unclear whether they will have the votes even with him there.
There has also been an alternative health care bill introduced by Republican Senators Lindsay Graham and Bill Cassidy, which calls for the federal government to send money to the states to use for health care as they see fit. According to Cassidy, “A blue state can do a blue thing, a red state a red thing.”
00:10:48 Does Trump’s budget proposal call for drastic cuts to Medicaid? What about other safety net programs?
00:11:52 Do Republican policies disproportionately target poor people and minorities?
In 2012, social scientists at the University of California, San Diego, used U.S. Census data to see how different ethnic groups have fared under the Democratic and Republican presidents of the past fifty years. Their findings showed that under Democratic presidents, minorities saw gains in income, a decline in poverty, and a lower unemployment rate. Under Republican presidents, the opposite was true.
It’s also worth noting that white people also made gains in income and saw a decrease in poverty under Democratic presidents.
The researchers cite policies as the main cause for these drastically different results.
You can read the full study here. It’s a PDF file that you will be asked to download. I downloaded it myself, so don’t worry, it’s legit.
00:13:00 Did Trump really have cameos in Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and The Little Rascals?
He sure did. Here he is on Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, playing himself alongside second wife Marla Maples, and here he is as Waldo’s dad in the movie, The Little Rascals.
00:13:18 How bad were Donald Trump’s business failures? Where did this association with Trump and never giving up come from?
Not giving up has been part of the Trump brand for years. Trump has a book out called Never Give Up, and he drove home that message in a May 2017 commencement speech at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, which may have influenced Anne’s thinking. The speech happened days before our conversation and was definitely fresh in my mind. (In the speech, Trump cites how "unfairly" the media has treated him as the thing he's not giving up against.)
00:14:30 Did Governor Abbott of Texas lower the cost of a gun license in that state to only $40?
00:14:38 Are women who own guns safer?
Not according to the best data we have. In fact, women who own guns are more likely to have their own weapons turned against them than to be saved by them.
00:16:31 Are the criminals “always gonna get guns”?
This argument is really popular with gun rights advocacy groups, but it doesn’t stand up to the data we have on what happens when stricter gun control laws are enforced. It doesn’t stand up to logic or critical assessment, either.
The Huffington Post blog even made an argument that the NRA has actually made it easier for criminals to obtain guns illegally, all while using the arguments that criminals will always get guns to justify pushing for laxer gun control legislation.
00:16:57 Are guns illegal in Korea and Japan? And do criminals get guns in those countries anyway?
In South Korea, guns are not entirely illegal, as I said they were, but the laws on gun ownership are extremely strict. I was surprised to find out that you can get a gun license in Korea—but only if you can prove that you need one for a "genuine reason," like hunting or target shooting. (Self-protection is not considered a genuine reason.)
Handguns, like the ones we have here in the U.S., are strictly prohibited, and even the hunting rifles that are approved must be stored at the local police station, not at home. To get approved for a gun for hunting or target shooting, you have to be at least 20 years old, and you have to pass a background check that looks into your criminal history and mental health records. You also have to take a gun safety course, and you must re-certify every five years.
There is no indication that criminals are getting guns in spite of the very restrictive gun laws. South Korea’s firearm homicide rate is extremely low, at 0.08 deaths per 100,000 people annually. In the United States, the rate is 10.54 deaths per 100,000 people annually. You have the same chances of being killed with a gun in South Korea as you do of being killed by “being crushed or pinched between objects” in the United States.
Japan presents a similar case of gun control legislation successfully curbing death by firearm. Firearm deaths are virtually non-existent in Japan, thanks to laws that prohibit almost any kind of legal firearm ownership. To give you an idea of how striking the numbers are, here’s one example from the linked article: in 2008, there were around 12,000 gun-related homicides in the U.S and only 11 in Japan. Clearly, the criminals in Japan aren’t getting guns anyway.
00:17:20 Do more guns result in more gun deaths?
All of the most recent research on this, including a comprehensive review of academic literature from researchers at Harvard, suggest strongly that more guns translates to more killing.
I really love this collection of easy-to-reference fact cards regarding gun violence that Vox put together. They are worth reading from beginning to end.
00:18:17 How common are accidental gun deaths?
Accidental death by firearm is actually pretty rare compared to gun-related homicides and suicides. Suicides account for nearly two-thirds of all gun deaths, while homicides account for around one-third. Accidents only account for a very small number of gun-related deaths, but the victims are usually very young.
00:20:34 Did a boy in Seguin, Texas, really use a gun to commit suicide in his school?
00:20:59 Is it a lot harder to kill yourself any other way than just using a gun?
There are a couple of ways to answer this question.
The first is to look at how lethal suicide attempts are when using a gun versus any other method. The most common methods used to attempt suicide are firearms, hanging or other forms of suffocation, and poisoning or overdose. Jumping, cutting, and other methods account for under 10% of all attempted suicides. Of these methods, firearms are by far the most lethal. That means if you restrict access to firearms, suicide attempts in general will become a lot less fatal.
The other way to examine this is to look at what happens to suicide rates when you take guns out of an environment that previously had them. In Australia, a program that got about a fifth of Australia’s guns out of citizens’ hands resulted in gun suicides decreasing by 74 percent. In Israel, the Israeli Defense Forces decided soldiers shouldn’t be allowed to take their guns home on weekends, resulting in a 40% drop in gun suicides committed on weekends.
00:22:49 What is de-escalation training?
De-escalation training is a way of handling moments of crisis that is currently finding some traction with U.S. law enforcement. The tenets of the training are that the best way to diffuse a potentially violent confrontation is to consciously slow down the encounter and connect with the dangerous party as a human being. The idea is that this will decrease the likelihood of an encounter becoming violent, thereby reducing the chances of anyone ending up dead.
Does it work? It seems to be working well in Dallas, where the introduction of de-escalation training led to a huge decrease in incidents where police officers were reported for using excessive force.
But we don’t currently have any studies on the topic, so the jury will remain out on this until we do. And law enforcement officers haven’t exactly been super-excited about adopting the strategy.
For a great in-depth look at how de-escalation training could change law enforcement in the U.S. for the better, I recommend you give this episode of the podcast Reveal a concentrated listen. It’s called “What cops aren’t learning,” and it was what first introduced me to the concept of de-escalation.
00:23:19 Was a bill struck down that restricted access to guns for mentally ill people? Was the ACLU really against it?
It was actually a rule implemented by the Obama administration after the Sandy Hook massacre in 2012. It would have prohibited certain mentally ill people from buying guns—specifically, people who receive full disability benefits due to mental illness and are unable to manage those benefits on their own.
The ACLU and many other disability rights organizations came out strongly against the regulation, saying it needlessly discriminated against people with mental illnesses, has no evidence to back it up, and won’t actually make us safer.
The regulation was overturned by Congress in February 2017 as part of the Congressional Review Act.
00:27:12 Do guns enhance your ability to protect yourself?
All of the best research we have indicates the opposite: that owning guns increases your chances of dying from a gunshot wound. And the idea that guns are useful for self-defense doesn’t stand up to scientific analysis, either.
Not that defensive gun use doesn’t ever happen—I’m sure it does—but those incidents are the exception, not the rule.
For all the claims that Anne makes about how her guns make her safer from both people and snakes, I couldn’t help but notice that she doesn’t have one single personal anecdote to justify those claims. The one time she pulled a gun on a person, it was her niece’s stepbrother. The one time she had to kill a dangerous snake, she did it with a shovel, not a gun.
00:28:04 Is it true that countries with lots of guns have higher murder rates?
The United States does not have the highest gun homicide rates in the world, however. Several countries in Central and South America do much worse in that regard than we do.
But when comparing the U.S. to other countries, researchers try to control for factors like poverty and civil unrest by comparing the U.S. only to other advanced, democratic, economically prosperous countries. And in that sense, we are an outlier when it comes to both gun ownership and gun violence.
00:29:25 Would taking away people’s guns give them anxiety and a feeling of not being safe?
00:32:03 I want to listen to that episode of The New York Radio Hour Samia mentioned, featuring the gun blogger who is critical of the NRA. Where can I find it?
You can listen to that segment from The New Yorker Radio Hour here. It features gun blogger and shop owner Mike Weisser, and why he thinks the NRA uses fear-mongering tactics to get more people to buy guns.
00:33:35 Do gun sales spike whenever lawmakers talk about tightening gun control legislation?
00:39:27 What kind of gun safety training do people have to take to get a gun license in Texas? Do you have to take a two-day course?
The Texas Department of Public Safety only requires four hours of training to qualify for a handgun license. It’s possible that Anne took a longer course; there are plenty of options for people looking to get a gun license.
00:39:51 Is it harder to kill someone without a gun?
Well, in the U.S., guns are used to kill others more than all other weapons combined. And when you compare us with other countries that have fewer guns and stricter gun control legislation, it’s clear that the abundance of guns sharply inflates homicide rates, because other instruments of death, like knives or blunt objects, just aren’t as effective.
00:40:19 If you take guns away, do less people die?
00:44:02 Where is the study that shows that liberals and conservatives show equal bias when it comes to party affiliation?
I can’t find the study I referenced here—I’m sure I read something like what I described, but there’s no sign of it in any of my searches—but the concept of partisan bias has been written about ad nauseam, especially recently. The bias definitely goes both ways, with liberals showing just as much intolerance as conservatives when it comes to those who hold opposing views. There’s also plenty of evidence to show that liberals and conservatives alike value party affiliation over their own personal interests, and that we all suffer from confirmation bias when trying to critically assess ideas we disagree with. And sadly, facts don’t have much chance of changing our minds on their own.
And this goes for me as much as for anyone else. Even while compiling these Show Notes, I often worry that I’m only using sources that support my existing ideas. If you are reading through these and think I’ve fallen into that trap, feel free to reach out and correct me. It’s difficult staying open to opposing viewpoints, and I’m trying to force myself to do just that by making all of my ideas so public.
00:46:31 What happened with a cake that relates to gay marriage?
Oh, it’s so ridiculous. Basically, a baker in Colorado refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple, and lost a discrimination case the couple filed against him. The Supreme Court agreed in June 2017 to hear an appeal on that ruling. LGBTQ rights groups are going to raise hell if the Supreme Court overturns the earlier ruling, because that could set a dangerous precedent of legal anti-gay discrimination.
00:47:05 What’s going on with Texas’s bathroom bill?
In January 2017, Republican lawmakers in Texas introduced a bill requiring people to use bathrooms in government-funded facilities (like public schools and government buildings) that correspond with their “biological sex.” The bill was not passed during the legislative session.
On June 6, Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced that measures restricting bathroom use would be on the agenda for a special session starting on July 18, 2017, but the special session adjourned without addressing the bill. It's dead for now.
00:49:10 How many Americans think trans people are sexual predators?
It seems I got the arguments from proponents of this kind of legislation confused, although I have heard people I know say things like, “Do you really want those people in the bathroom with your kids?” Of course, there have been zero reports of a trans person ever attacking anyone in a bathroom. Zero.
But I digress. Apparently, the argument has been that allowing trans people to use the bathroom of their choice will encourage males posing as trans women to enter women’s bathrooms and assault women and girls.
But that idea is a myth. Whether or not trans people are allowed to use the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity, there will still be sexual predators, and sexual assault is still illegal. There’s no need for discriminatory legislation when we already have laws against sexual assault. Furthermore, this whole idea of men pretending to be women to infiltrate women’s bathrooms is just not a thing that really happens in any significant numbers. There’s no evidence to suggest that laws protecting trans people have any effect on incidents of sexual assault in public bathrooms.
Prohibiting trans people from using the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity only serves to put them at risk of harassment and violence. This quote from a trans woman in an article from USA Today sums up the problem with these bathroom bills perfectly: “Trans women are killed for using the men's restroom, and they're jailed for using the women's restroom. In the end, what choice do we have?"
00:49:29 If what you said above about how this bathroom predator thing is just a myth, then what about that guy who disguised himself as a woman and attacked a little girl in a bathroom at Target?
The answer’s pretty simple: it didn’t really happen.
In April 2016, Target released a statement entitled “Continuing to Stand for Inclusivity,” in which they declared their commitment to equality for people within the LGBTQ community and said that trans people were welcome to use the bathroom of their gender identity in Target stores nationwide.
This statement unleashed intense backlash from conservatives, including a boycott of Target stores and lots and lots of fear-mongering concerning using Target bathrooms. Target CEO Brian Cornell refused to back down from his position of inclusivity, and responded to the backlash with a $20 million plan to expand single-occupancy unisex bathrooms to all Target stores.
But I can’t find one single instance reported on any credible media site of anyone actually being attacked in a Target bathroom since that statement was released. All I could find to support this claim were articles like this one from the Christian Post (they link to no sources, so I couldn’t follow up on any of the stories they cite).
There’s also an article from Breitbart, which lists incidents involving men sexually assaulting women and girls in and around Target stores—and not men disguised as women, either, just plain old-fashioned cis-men. Breitbart tries to link all this to Target’s statement about trans bathroom rights, but they make zero connection between the two. They literally say something about Target’s statement and then launch into a list of sexual assault incidents at Target stores that weren’t committed by trans people or people posing as trans people, and that mostly didn’t even happen in bathrooms. It makes no sense, and it's misleading as hell.
00:54:12 What was Obama’s stance on abortion and does it conflict with what Anne said her stance is?
At a presidential primary debate in South Carolina in 2007, Obama said he trusted women to make their own decisions about partial-birth (a harsher way of saying late-term) abortions. I’m pretty sure that alone would have been enough for Anne.
For a complete list of statements Barack Obama has made about abortion, read this compilation from OnTheIssues.org.
00:54:36 Did Obama go back and forth on a lot of issues?
Anne’s not wrong on this. Obama flip-flopped on gay marriage. And there were some things he said during his 2008 campaign that he quickly backed off of once he became president.
00:54:47 Did Obama get 16 million Americans health insurance who didn’t have it before? Did he expand Medicaid? Did he bring the economy out of the Great Recession? And lastly, did he promote democratic values and human rights by taking a strong stance against authoritarian leaders and human rights abusers worldwide?
It has been widely reported that the Affordable Care Act allowed 16 million Americans to obtain health insurance who didn’t have it before. Much of that number was due to the ACA’s Medicaid expansion. However, critics say those numbers are inflated.
Obama’s financial stimulus package was pretty comprehensive and is considered to be a major reason our economy bounced back from the recession of 2008. One of the key pieces of legislation in the package was the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which was specifically designed to prevent big banks from creating the conditions that led to the financial crisis again. Essentially, it increased the amount of regulations the Federal government imposes on banks, especially the largest banks. The new regulations included requiring banks to have more money in reserve and more easily-liquidated assets, in order to allow them to better weather another crisis like the Great Recession. It also requires the largest banks to undergo annual stress tests, to see if they could survive another major crisis. And it established the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which is charged with protecting people from abusive or unfair financial practices, like the shady mortgage deals that led to the housing crisis.
Different analyses will tell you Dodd-Frank wildly succeeded or spectacularly failed, but I like this more balanced one from the Guardian.
As far as taking a strong stand against authoritarian leaders and human rights abusers, it’s a mixed bag. Obama did hit Russia with economic sanctions after they invaded Ukraine and annexed Crimea, but he was criticized for being “too soft” on them.
Even though he has publicly criticized Saudi Arabia for not doing more to stabilize the Middle East and applied pressure concerning human rights abuses there, he still worked with them in order to maintain the U.S.’s access to their oil and their willingness to pay lots of money for U.S. military equipment.
Obama’s foreign policy with regard to the horrifying Assad regime in Syria has been harshly criticized by foreign policy experts as being weak, and media outlets on the left and right have called it a total failure.
This in-depth analysis looks at all the ways that Obama failed to fulfill his promises throughout his presidency. On both sides of the aisle, critics viewed him as overly cautious.
00:55:59 What provision of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, would have helped Anne switch to a new insurance?
The ACA instituted a new rule prohibiting insurance companies from denying coverage to people based on pre-existing conditions. Anne has a medical condition that prevented her from switching to a new insurance plan, and she was stuck with less than adequate coverage until the ACA took effect in 2010.
00:58:48 Is Obama’s life story shrouded in mystery, or is he an open book?
There’s no mystery; he just wasn’t a famous celebrity before running for president in 2008. The details of his life are easy to find with a simple Google search, and there are plenty of articles on him from before he ran for president, like this one from the New Yorker. He also had two books out before that election: Dreams From My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance (2004) is a deeply personal memoir, and The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream (2007) describes his political vision for America. There was plenty of information on him out there. Anne just didn’t see any of it.
01:03:22 Did Trump’s first wife, Ivana, accuse him of rape in their divorce proceedings?
01:04:58 Was the story about Republican Congressman Gianforte of Montana body-slamming a reporter fabricated?
The story was not fabricated.
There is actually audio of the incident to back up Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs’s claim that Republican Congressman Greg Gianforte physically attacked him. And if you don’t trust the “liberal media,” the incident was even verified by a Fox News reporter, Alicia Acuna, who witnessed it. She wrote, “Gianforte grabbed Jacobs by the neck with both hands and slammed him into the ground behind him. Faith, Keith and I watched in disbelief as Gianforte then began punching the reporter.” She also says, “To be clear, at no point did any of us who witnessed this assault see Jacobs show any form of physical aggression toward Gianforte, who left the area after giving statements to local sheriff’s deputies.”
Gianforte later pled guilty to a misdemeanor assault charge, received a six-month deferred sentence, and had to pay $385 in court fees and fines.
01:06:18 Was Fox News established solely to reflect back the opinions of conservative America?
It sure was. From the linked article: “The new network would speak to viewers who felt the rest of the press was too liberal, like the New York Times, even 60 Minutes itself.”
01:07:20 Okay, Samia, you made a lot of strong statements about what we know about what guns do to a society’s murder rate, suicide rate, etc. Where are you getting all this? Can you really back it all up?
I’m going to send you to all the sources I’ve been using to refine my opinions on this. You will always find people to negate every scientific finding, and gun rights advocates can rightly say that none of the research I’m referencing actually proves that guns cause higher rates of gun-related death. That is true. But read through all of these links to see the wealth of evidence we have showing strongly that guns really are the problem.
Guns and suicide: A fatal link - Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
- The presence of guns in a household is associated with a higher risk of suicide deaths.
Controlling Access to Suicide Means - U.S. National Library of Medicine
- If you make suicide more difficult by restricting access to speedy instruments of death (like guns), you make suicide attempts less likely to be fatal.
10 Essential Facts About Guns and Suicide - The Trace
- About half of all suicides are executed using a firearm.
- Suicides account for about two-thirds of all firearm deaths.
- Guns are the most lethal method of committing suicide.
- Most people who attempt suicide but don't succeed do not end up killing themselves later.
- The states with the most guns also have the highest suicide rates.
- Making sure suicidal people lack access to guns can save their lives.
- States with mandatory waiting periods for gun purchases have less gun suicides.
Can an Obstacle Prevent Suicide? - Psychology Today
- Since suicide is often an impulsive act, limiting access to guns and creating obstacles that stand between people and guns can prevent suicides from happening.
Decrease in Suicide Rates After a Change of Policy Reducing Access to Firearms in Adolescents: A Naturalistic Epidemiological Study - The American Association of Suicidology
- The Israeli Defense Forces saw a 40% reduction in suicides after implementing a policy prohibiting soldiers from taking their guns home on weekends.
- There are about as many guns in the U.S. as people.
- We have way more gun violence than other prosperous countries.
- Where there are more guns, there are more murders.
- Gun suicides happen twice as often as gun homicides.
- More guns mean more suicides.
- Having a gun in the house increases your risk of death.
- Guns make domestic violence more deadly.
- Mass shootings are nothing compared to plain old murder and suicide when it comes to how many people die as a result.
- Mentally ill people aren’t the problem when it comes to gun violence.
More guns, more crime: New research debunks a central thesis of the gun rights movement - The Washington Post
- Contrary to the arguments of groups like the NRA, more guns actually leads to more crime.
You be the judge. The truth is, if you are a person who, like Anne, grew up seeing guns as a symbol of security and safety, there's very little chance any of this will change your mind.
But I still have hope that one day Americans will decide collectively that our obsession with guns is hurting us more than helping. Change happens slowly.