Episode 77: Executive Disorder
Published January 27, 2017.
Aminatou: Welcome to Call Your Girlfriend.
Ann: A podcast for long-distance besties everywhere.
Aminatou: I'm Aminatou Sow.
Ann: And I'm Ann Friedman. On this week's agenda we've got a report back from Sundance featuring some of Amina's favorites, an inauguration recap including what's in Melania's box, what's on Michele's face -- hint, it's what we're all feeling -- and cakegate. Plus a dispatch from the Women's March including voices of some of our incredible listeners who were there, ten actions for one hundred days as an activist follow-up, plus Cheeto Watch week one. Trump is gagging all sorts of things including making us gag. And super-rich and liberal preppers are headed off the grid.
Aminatou: Ah, ooh-ooh. How's it going? My voice is completely shot. That's always how I know it's time to go home.
Ann: I love how you gave me the howling hello despite your voice being shot.
Aminatou: You know what it is is I'm just surrounded by so many awesome ladies and all we're doing is howling at each other. [Laughs]
Ann: Like you see each other across the street and howl a hello?
Aminatou: Yeah, across a snowbank. Yes, I'm in Park City, Utah right now. This is why there is snow and why my voice is gone, howling at ladies. It's just a very exciting time.
Ann: Oh my god, please describe the general women's presence/vibe at Sundance.
Aminatou: The vibe is strong. Oh my gosh, the strong is so, so, so strong. There's so many awesome ladies here. You can feel it everywhere, you know? So part of it that is funny, I think, is there's obviously a lot of movies that have female directors or really strong female presences or tell really awesome female stories and you can also even tell in some of the brands that are reflected. Just every big brand activation that I've gone to just has awesome ladies in charge of shit. I'm like I'm so happy to be here.
Aminatou: It's been really, really, really fun just watching movies, falling and skiing, just catching up with old friends. It's been a blast.
Ann: I know it's early preview days but is there anything that you are already excited for the rest of the world to see?
Aminatou: Yes, this amazing documentary called Step about a step team from Baltimore. They flew out everybody from the step team and their families are here. Not a single dry eye in the room. I loved it. I will not spoiler anything for you but when it comes out you should absolutely, absolutely watch it. It'll make you laugh, it'll make you cry, and just feel awesome. What else did I watch? There's this Russian doping documentary that's super fucked up called Icarus. That's what I watched instead of inauguration. [Laughs] And so I can't even tell you about being in a room watching about Russian propaganda while your new president is also a result of Russian propaganda. It was like very intense.
Ann: Highly-specific protest.
Aminatou: But yeah, that was really good. But no, there are no ladies involved in that so I'm not going to shout that out. I got to watch the first three episodes of I Love Dick which as we were talking about earlier, it's not a straight, straight adaptation of the book but it's pretty awesome. So if you're a Chris Kraus or I Love Dick fan you will love this. What else? Patty Cakes was really good. I just try to not give spoilers but I want to tell you everything about all of these things. I'll send you a little email and then maybe we'll put it on the website.
Ann: Yes! Or when it's sort of a time closer to when I can actually see these things because it's sort of like fashion trend report for something happening in six months. You're like thanks, that's not relevant. Everything is covered in snow right now. I'm going to forget about this by the time . . . so I want like a timely update.
Aminatou: Exactly. But you know how I can watch 40 hours of TV and that doesn't faze me?
Ann: Your superpower.
Aminatou: But it takes every ounce of energy I have to watch a movie. This is the most trying week of my life because it's just movies, movies, movies. So it's like I get to watch docs and some really cool stuff. Like one probably that you and I will go watch in the theater together is The Big Sick. It's with Kumail Nanjiani and Zoe Kazan and it's very sweet. It's like this interracial love story and it's really well-done. And for a movie that's produced by Judd Apatow it doesn't have all of the Judd Apatow problems. You know, like too long, too whatever.
Ann: Shrewish women characters?
Aminatou: Exactly. It's like it's just . . . it's perfect. So I don't know, it's good. And then there's also did you ever see the trailer for that horror movie? What's his name, the Jordan Peele one? Get Out.
Ann: Oh my god, which I didn't see the movie but I wanted to so bad when I saw the trailer.
Aminatou: So the movie showed last night I recommend and I am not somebody who fucks with horror movies.
Ann: What's it called?
Aminatou: Get Out.
Ann: Get Out. Oh my god, yeah, I'm dying to see it.
Aminatou: So many, many, many things and so many cool documentaries from all around the world. The other fun thing about Sundance, I remember my first Sundance I kept a list in my notebook of all the celebrities that I saw because I thought, you know, it's just like oh, look at you slipping in the snow with the rest of the hoi polloi.
Aminatou: And this year was no exception. It was like ten out of ten celeb sightings.
Ann: I love it. I love people trying to look glamorous while also wearing practical things, or not wearing practical things.
Aminatou: So I thought it could not be done until I saw Kerry Washington in a panel and she looked like a vision. And this was the day that we got probably like 16 inches of snow, like full-on blizzard. I don't even know how everybody made it to this thing. And she just steps out in a beautiful coat, takes off her coat, and she's wearing this very chic sweater dress.
Ann: Of course she is. Of course she is.
Aminatou: And it's like everybody else here looks a mess. [Laughs] How did you manage that? And her hair is amazing. Not a single . . . it was magic. I don't know how that happened. It was magic. I was like, you know, you Olivia Poped the F out of the situation so good for you.
Ann: Yeah, ski lodge Olivia Pope is maybe my winter fashionable for life now.
Aminatou: That's really . . . that's where it's at. To segue into this, it's like did you see what Kellyanne Conway wore at inauguration?
Ann: Oh my god, the horrible little tin soldier look?
Aminatou: The Paddington Bear, how she went full Paddington Bear. [Laughs]
Aminatou: I feel like that's what your statement parka is supposed to do. It's supposed to envelope you.
Ann: I'm wearing fascism by Paddington Bear. What are you wearing?
Ann: Okay. I'm going to be real with you though if we're talking about inauguration looks, I kind of liked Melania's look, that like high-neck, ice blue wrap neck thing.
Aminatou: Ann, I'm so angry you're even bringing this up because I was going to tell you this privately that in normal times I would say that I enjoyed Melania's book. But we are living in extraordinary times so I cannot cosign that delightful look she had. [Laughs]
Ann: Okay, but I'm going to be real, wife of fascist looks really good is not a breaking news headline, right?
Aminatou: I know! But she also totally jacked the whole look from Jackie Kennedy.
Ann: Listen, I know. I'm not giving her all of the credit in the world here. I'm just saying . . .
Aminatou: If she was married to somebody else we'd be having a different conversation.
Aminatou: Fair enough. Fair enough.
Ann: Speaking of people who are married to someone else, Michele's face. [Laughs]
Aminatou: First of all, Michele looked amazing and then her face just reflected the mood of the country. Record scratch, freeze frame, you're wondering how I got here. [Laughs] That's what it felt like the whole time. But did you see Melania give her that ginormous Tiffany's box?
Ann: Yes. What was even happening with that?
Aminatou: Well, so last . . . not last year. In 2009, Michele brought Laura Bush a gift.
Aminatou: I guess -- so Michele kind of started a tradition, because you know how Melania jacks everything Michele does.
Ann: Of course. Of course.
Aminatou: So that's what happened. But the funniest thing I saw is somebody tweeted a photoshop of the box and inside it said help. [Laughs]
Aminatou: And I was like you know, this meme actually like . . . I laughed about it for a little bit, then I was like you know, actually this whole free Melania meme is not great because Melania doesn't deserve my sympathy. She is a birther herself, like doesn't believe that our former president was born in the United States. She's married to a terrible person that she's defended and if she is trapped I hope she stays trapped.
Ann: I mean she's also an immigrant and a woman who is totally chill with the decimation of the rights of other women and other immigrants. So, you know, no sympathies. No sympathy whatsoever.
Aminatou: Yeah, zero sympathy for Melania but I did enjoy the blink twice if you need to get out of here story.
Ann: Oh my god, I know. Speaking of other things that were totally plagiarized let's talk about cakegate.
Aminatou: Oh my -- okay, tell the people what's going on with the inaugural cakes.
Ann: So the Cheeto's inauguration cake was pretty much an exact replica of the cake for Obama's inauguration four years ago.
Aminatou: They plagiarized the cake is what you're saying.
Ann: That is 100% what I'm saying. So the original for Obama's inauguration is made by some dude named Duff Goldman who indeed has a Food Network show and this year's was made by a shop called Buttercream Bake Shop in D.C. which had the most delightful Instagram post after people noticed that the cake was a direct rip-off of Obama's. The Buttercream Bake Shop grammed a photo of this year's cake and said "Excited to share the cake we got to make for one of last night's inaugural balls. While we most love creating original designs, when we are asked to replicate someone else's work we are thrilled when it is a masterpiece like this one."
Ann: "Duff Goldman originally created this for Obama's inauguration and this year's committee commissioned us to recreate it. Best part is all the profits are being donated to Human Rights Campaign, one of our favorite charities who we have loved working with over the years." Boom. [Laughs]
Aminatou: That is amazing.
Ann: I know! I just like -- oh, cake activism.
Aminatou: Aren't you mad? This is not about Cheeto specifically because all presidents do this but I cannot believe how much of our tax dollars just goes into garbage like inauguration pomp and circumstance. It's very exciting.
Ann: I know. I know you missed the inauguration because you were watching movies. I was on a plane during inauguration, which is actually this is . . . it was both my literal life transition to the women's march, but also a great transition for us that I was in Portland for a work thing and I flew. I think he was speaking when I was in the airport waiting to board the plane directly to D.C. And I was so tired and so grumpy and I think I had been texting with you about how I was more depressed than I thought I would be like on actual inauguration day. Like you think you get used to this idea and then you're like oh.
Aminatou: And then it's here and you're like doom and gloom.
Ann: Yeah. And just being in the airport and just like hearing the ambient noise of his voice like through the airport and just being like oh, this is going to be a background noise to the next four years . . . anyway, I was really sad. I was one of the last people on the plane because I was getting my snack situation sorted.
Ann: And as I'm walking onto the plane, passing every single row, I realized that every single person on the plane was a woman. I mean I think there were maybe two to three men maximum on this flight. And that's when I got really emotional.
Aminatou: Aww, lady plane!
Ann: I know, the all lady plane. You know, it was a brief alternate universe where women are just so obviously dominant and so visible and I definitely, when I got to my seat I cried. And the two women on either side of me were each patting one thigh.
Ann: As you might suspect, some things happened on the all lady plane. One, we ran out of sparkling water like immediately.
Aminatou: Of course. Of course.
Ann: By the second sort of drinks cart service we'd run out of wine as well and the snack supply was running low.
Aminatou: This is hilarious.
Ann: There was a row behind me of women who I would say were in their 50s or 60s and one of the women was a protest veteran who had been I think all the way back to Vietnam War protests, had experience. And then the other two women were like "This is our first protest. What do we expect?" And then the older -- the woman who had experience was filling them in.
Ann: And then she had a copy of the newspaper which had a map of the mall on it, and it was for inauguration, but she had written on it with pen like here's where the women's march starts and she was like pass it up to the front of the plane. And I was like oh, we all have the Internet but this is so cute.
Aminatou: [Laughs] I just . . . I love that it turned into instant comradery.
Ann: Oh my god, there was so much hooting, so much whooping. One of the flight attendants took a photo at the front of the plane of everyone on it and then walked row-by-row Airdropping the photo to people so we'd all have a copy.
Ann: I mean like amazing. Like truly, truly amazing work. Anyway, so I tweeted the photo because this is a very . . . I mean I would say going to be a fairly unique experience in my life. And several people, totally correctly, pointed out that everyone visible in the photo for sure -- definitely not everyone on the plane -- but was a white lady. And it's like yeah, yeah, RIP my mentions because all of the Trump supporters were like "I hope the plane burns. I hope it goes down. I hope it's hijacked." It was pretty fun. That as well, being like okay, well let's just acknowledge this. First of all, the flight's flying from Portland which is not an excuse but just demographically there's probably something that's a little bit different about this flight versus one coming from elsewhere. But it really was a nice sort of framing moment that prompted me to be like I'm going to a march that is probably -- definitely -- going to be dominated by white women with a certain degree of economic privilege and what does that mean for what happens at the march and what does that mean for what happens after? So it was actually this pretty important framing experience for me as well.
Aminatou: Yeah. You know, I think that one thing that I was really struck by is how much fun everybody was having. You know, obviously fun is great but that's also kind of how you know that it's a very white march because let me tell you that is not the atmosphere at Black Lives Matter's marches for example, right?
Aminatou: And, yeah, a lot of people were talking about how there are what, five million people marching all around the world? Definitely millions of those are in the United States. And there's no reported arrests from any of the women's marches which is amazing and great, you know? But I think it speaks so much to how policing is different at these events. I love seeing all the signs that are like "All of you are going to show up at the Black Lives Matter protest, right?" And there was this really kind of I want to say iconic -- such a Twitter word -- iconic photo of this black woman who she's like licking a lollipop and holding a sign that says "White women votes for March, or 53% of white women . . ." I forget what the specific sign was. But behind her there are three white ladies in the pink hats who are definitely taking selfies and it's a very light kind of moment. And the Internet seized on that as a hmm. But I think the march organizers did a really good job of acknowledging all of that. You know, it's like if you look at the speaker program, if you look at the platform and what the march stands for, it is definitely inclusive and it is definitely led by many women of color and the agenda's really strong.
Aminatou: It's one of those things that I think it's important to critique but at the same time there's a part of me that's just stuck in like wow, these women had eleven weeks to plan this incredible event and they pulled it off, you know?
Ann: Totally. Totally. Yeah, and I didn't mean that . . . I mean for me personally my experience at the march, which granted there were so many people marching in so many places we're all probably going to see and hear different things, but in terms of what I heard and saw I didn't participate in a march that was exclusively focused on say reproductive rights. Like the chants that I heard and participated in and the signs that I saw, there was a lot about immigration and LGBTQIA rights and we did chant Black Lives Matter at several points in the march. You're right, tons of credit to the organizers for setting a tone that this is a march about justice and setting a tone moving forward and less about biologically female anatomy or something like that.
Ann: You know what I mean? Like a very broad definition of all the things.
Aminatou: No, exactly. You know, and saying that it's not . . . I really appreciated too their framing about -- like the way that they talk about it, because the march is about Trump but it's also bigger than him, you know? In the sense that he's not going to be here forever but we're going to be fighting about these things for a long time.
Aminatou: And so I think that setting that expectation of just doubling down on kind of your values and justice and doing this for a long time is very important. You know, the march in Park City, they expected I think 1,500 people and 8,000 people showed up.
Aminatou: In I want to say 15 degree weather. It was so cold, 15 degree weather, and definitely 13 inches of snow. And I think the population of Park City is maybe double that. Here, let's look it up. The population of Park City is 7,962 people.
Ann: Wow. [Laughs] That's incredible.
Aminatou: So that tells you, yeah, and the march here obviously was celebrity-heavy and Chelsea Handler led it. It looked like everybody had a good time. Everybody was on the same page. And it kind of set the tone for the rest of the week. It's kind of the thing that at least in my circles and the things that I'm doing, everybody is talking about it and it's back-of-mind for them, you know? And I think that that's really enhanced my experience here because it's like on one hand there's all these wonderful creative projects but people are also really focused on what does this mean for my work in the next four years or the next eight years? And that's been really awesome to watch.
Ann: Yeah. And I mean more props to the women's march organizers but they've started a new initiative called Ten Actions For One Hundred Days which is essentially every ten days they're going to provide really detailed instructions for how to take an action. I love this because basically then you can say okay, did I march with a crew of people, like we're going to get together then follow through with the action for this next ten days? Or you can have a virtual crew do it. You know, it's all online at womensmarch.com.
Aminatou: Yeah. You know, it's so important to take the momentum of these last couple days to really think about what that means for actual politics, you know? And for our own actions. Because we've seen movements come and go and die basically because of this lack of follow-up.
Aminatou: And this is so strong and people feel so energized, especially people who had never been to protests before. You know, it's like if you're a first-time marcher, that's the hardest barrier to cross.
Aminatou: You know, you showed up. Actually you did that. That's incredible. And now everything is maintenance. Constant vigilance and maintenance.
Ann: Right. And thinking about showing up as a commitment to the future or all of the signs, and I heard this was the messaging from the stage although I never even got close enough to a jumbotron to lay eyes on a teeny, tiny Angela Davis or anything.
Ann: But, you know, I heard that a lot of the messaging from the stage is this is only the beginning messaging. And I think that is a really powerful -- as opposed to this is a protest, this is a promise that you will continue to hear from us about all this stuff. I really . . . I love that.
Aminatou: Yeah, that's cool. And people are already starting to organize April 15th tax day marches for the Cheeto to show us his taxes which I just laughed because I was like thank you for reminding me to file for an extension right now because I'm not going to have time to deal with that.
Aminatou: It's like April 15th is a Saturday this year which means that taxes aren't due until that Monday and I'm like yeah, this is not going to happen. See you guys in October.
Ann: Question, did you have any signs that you saw from the March or that you saw IRL that you thought were particularly funny? I know we talked about the ones we thought were important or poignant but I had a few hardy, hardy laughs.
Aminatou: There's always the classic like an older woman holding the "I can't believe I still have to protest this shit." But the one that made me really happy here was it was a younger girl, definitely maybe high school, that was holding it.
Aminatou: And she went up to this older woman and she's like "I think you should be holding this." [Laughs] Seeing that moment like killed me.
Ann: I've been keeping a folder of my favs including one that referred to the Cheeto as "the apricot hell beast."
Aminatou: Okay, that's pretty fucking good.
Ann: I was like we can use this. Also one that said "Never made a sign before. Now I'm secretary of signs."
Aminatou: The one that I loved was this one, I guess it was in D.C. -- I saw it on the news -- this woman was holding a know your constituent sign and had a perfect vagina diagram.
Aminatou: Just the whole thing. And I was like this is what they should put in the tampon box. This shit is good. Obviously the classic, my favorite, favorite march sign from around the world, was the one from the Dazed and Confused reference from Austin where somebody . . .
Ann: Oh please, tell me.
Aminatou: Somebody had the biggest Matthew McConaughey you've ever seen and then it said "Women want all rights, all rights, all rights."
Aminatou: I was like that's the most Austin, Texas thing in the world and I am so happy. Yes.
Ann: Regionally-specific, I saw an Indiana delegation in D.C. that carried a Sisterhood of the Troubling Pence sign.
Ann: And I was like yes. Yeah, regional jokes. I also like anything that was kind of a play on a more traditional protest sign. There was a woman in L.A. I believe who carried a sign that said "What do we want? Equal rights. When do we want it? 1776."
Ann: Yeah, which is sort of a different version of can't believe we still have to protest this.
Aminatou: Oh my god, but there were also some very cute little march babies like the one kid who had the very earnest sign that just said "I heart trains." I'm like you know what? Follow your heart little man. Or there was this adorable little kid that was like "I take naps but I'm woke" and I was like thank you. Thank you for bringing your children to marches.
Ann: I mean that sign could also apply to me and many people I know. [Laughs] The nap-centric protest sign.
Aminatou: It's so . . . I really hope that multiple people are archiving these because there were some incredible ones.
Ann: Yeah. So many good ones. Well I brought my audio equipment to the march as promised.
Ann: And I stopped many women I saw with cool signs or who looked like they were there with besties or generally looked interesting. And I have to say shout out to everyone who listens to this podcast. I would say that a good 50% of the people I talked to were like "Oh, I've listened to your podcast. Okay."
Ann: It just made me feel really happy about the quality of humans that are with us here.
Aminatou: That is squarely our demographic, hilarious ladies at civil rights marches. Yes.
Ann: Yes. So maybe we can listen to a few of the people I talked to including a woman with an incredible vagina dentata sign.
Aminatou: Oh my gosh.
Ann: And a crew of ten-year-old girls and I think there were three different women, although I only put the mic to one or two of them due to my still baby podcaster skills, who were wearing American flag headscarves and holding that Shepard Fairey sign of the woman in a head scarf printed with the American flag which I thought was really a pretty powerful sign of no, no, I'm not just your symbol. I'm here.
Ann: And how do you guys feel? You're really visible. I think that one thing I've been thinking about a lot is there are a lot of white people here, which in some ways I'm like it feels good. I want to see white people stand up to this president. But also on the other hand I have some misgivings. I don't know, I'm wondering how you're feeling about the crowd that's represented here today. I don't know.
Female: I feel that it's also very white and we were both kind of talking before. We felt that there should be more of a minority presence and Muslim presence in general, you know? I don't know if people are scared or just kind of going to their own community.
Female: Local walks as well. A lot of like in Trenton and New York, so people are just going to what's closer to them.
Female: Yeah. I wish we kind of all unified here and shut the city down.
Ann: Also just in terms of safety or whose body is on the line there is a part of me too that's like maybe it's a good thing there's a lot of white people on the line. I don't know.
Female: I mean I think we're all thinking it too but not really wanting to say it. Exactly.
Ann: I mean this is why I want to talk about it. I don't know.
Female: I mean you're right, some things are just very obvious and, you know, yep, they're not going to tear gas all these white people. [Laughs]
Ann: I mean there is . . .
Female: Yeah, but we're just kind of hoping.
Ann: Thank you.
Female: Thank you so much.
Female: My poster is -- it says vagina dentata. We have a very large, voluptuous, black vagina with labia inner and outer visible as well as a large, beautiful black clit. We have a legion of teeth, bloody teeth, and an anus for anatomical correctness and a bounty of coily pubes. This poster is set on a backdrop of glittery gold poster board which I think is really important to note. And again it says vagina dentata because this pussy bites back. [Cheering and trumpets]
Ann: What happened in the bathrooms?
Female: So there's a lot of port-a-potties lining the mall and some really pleasant trickster came along and put a bunch of little locks on them. They're not official locks. They look like somebody pranked it. So the very clever women of the march united to figure out a way to peel up the door and there's a line of women helping each other get in there to pee because that's what sisterhood is all about.
Ann: The port-a-potties have been taken by force.
Female: That's exactly right. And now there is "a crowbar guy" but a moment ago people were pulling back the door and going like "Crawl, crawl, crawl."
Chanting: Women's rights are under attack. What do we do? Stand up, fight back. Women's rights are under attack. What do we do? Stand up, fight back.
Ann: Tell me, did you want to come to the march today or did your parents make you do it?
Kid: I wanted to because I want to stand up for women's rights and equality.
Kid: Yes. I wanted to come to hang out with my best friends and to show that I do not stand with Donald Trump.
Ann: Why do you think women's rights are important?
Kid: Because we are women and women are human, therefore women rights are human rights. So Donald Trump treat us nice.
Ann: If you could go to Donald Trump's house and hang out right now what would you say to him?
Kid: Let's see your taxes.
Ann: Okay, so think about someone listening to this who wasn't there today. What would you tell them it felt like? And what did you see and what did you do?
Kid: I thought it felt very . . . it was a very important thing and special because it's going to become a big part of history. And I felt very courageous because everybody was just standing up for what they believed in and we were saying that no one was alone. We were all standing together.
Kid: I thought one of the best -- best parts of actually being there, because you know you can support women's rights all the time, but one of the best parts about being there was reading everybody's thoughts on the signs. I thought that was really cool.
Kid: I really liked a lot of the chants that they did and when we sung along.
Ann: Yeah, what's your favorite chant? Do it.
Chanting: He's a fascist. He's a racist. We won't stop until we replace him with a new revolution. Oh, a new revolution. Oh.
Ann: Okay, so p.s., also about those ten-year-olds, I told them that I wanted to interview them for my podcast and they go "Is it on YouTube?"
Ann: I told them no, it's on iTunes, and they were like oh. They gave me the most we feel so sorry for you old person look ever.
Aminatou: Well iTunes is a high barrier of entry for ten-year-olds. First of all they need a parental credit card, you know? There's a lot of infrastructure. But also they're right, we are old and irrelevant.
Ann: I know, anyway, roasted.
Aminatou: [Laughs] I love it, I love it, I love it.
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Aminatou: By the time this podcast airs on Friday it would've been one week of Cheeto presidency.
Ann: The Cheeto administration.
Aminatou: Right. And it's like what, we're recording this on Tuesday. So just so you know the biggest headline right now is how he's mad about the size of the crowds and just lying out of his wazoo. The press secretary is the worst press secretary we're ever going to have. He's like this is our Baghdad bomb and it's just bad news.
Ann: But even though the headlines are about him saying there's -- you know, talking about bullshit voter fraud or talking about inauguration numbers, he's actually doing more truly terrible things than I ever thought possible in four days.
Aminatou: Oh, day one. Just day one. Okay, let's go down the list. He has reinstated the global gag rule which is awful and will make abortions less safe. It means that probably thousands of women across the world are going to die and lose their access to healthcare. So if you don't know, by reinstating this executive order he's basically barring US foreign aid from going to any NGOs around the world that provide abortions. Or, this is the important part, that provide any kind of advice about abortion care. So if the NGO just simply discusses abortion with their patients as some sort of option for family planning they can't receive any US foreign aid which is awful.
Ann: Yeah. They cannot even utter the word abortion. Like they can't acknowledge that we live in a world in which this is a safe procedure that exists.
Aminatou: Did you see the picture of him signing this executive order?
Ann: Oh my god.
Aminatou: He's like surrounded by all men, just like awful people, but most of all it's like shame on you Jared Kushner and you and your wife claiming that you're progressive people. This is terrible. It's like watching Jared Kushner watch over his father-in-law doing this. I wanted to throw up I was so angry.
Ann: Yeah. I mean I definitely flashed back to the photo of Bush signing the global gag rule which featured a group of white men in suits standing behind him.
Aminatou: Yeah, so this is the thing you need to know about the global gag rule is every time we have a Republican president they reinstate it and the Democrat president takes it off the table. So see you in four years.
Aminatou: Ugh, this is terrible. What else is terrible that's going on? He's also stopped all the EPA research grants.
Ann: Yay! We don't need to know about the environment anyway.
Aminatou: We don't need to know about the environment. We don't need to clean up oil spills.
Ann: We can all decide for ourselves what is truly a toxic level of water pollution. Yeah, no big deal, right?
Aminatou: Can I do a side bar?
Aminatou: I'm deeply convinced that maybe conservatives don't care about the environment because a lot of them are religious and they think they're going to heaven so who cares about this planet? But I just don't understand it. I'm like a lot of you people are hunters. You're super-connected to land. How do you not connect these dots? It's very frustrating.
Ann: It's true. But also just like you drink water, right?
Ann: That's how I feel sometimes. I'm like yeah.
Aminatou: Well, but here's the other thing that they've done, they have quietly shut down the investigation on the Flint water crisis.
Aminatou: That's not even a headline. That's another shitty thing that's going on.
Ann: Ugh. Okay, I know you're not done yet.
Aminatou: Oh yeah, we're definitely building pipelines. What's up Keystone Pipeline? Coming back. All of these executive orders are bad. They're just bad, bad, bad, bad, bad.
Ann: Yeah. He's also made it so that very important federal agencies like Health and Human Services or the US Department of Agriculture or the EPA as previous mentioned cannot speak directly to the public and release their own information. So, for example, in Flint, Michigan recently there was a press release that the water is now safe to drink. But because we don't have any direct access to the EPA we don't know if that's just because they changed the standard or if it's because now the water is actually safe or I mean this is like a fundamental breakdown of our ability to understand regulations and to set standards.
Aminatou: Right. It's like a lot of people do not like the government because it's bloated and it's slow and whatever your government criticism is. But government does really fucking important work every single day, like work that you can't privatize. These reports, we're not going to find them anywhere else.
Ann: Right. Like is my over-the-counter medication safe? I don't know. The Trump administration says figure it out yourself. Like yeah.
Aminatou: Yeah. They're like ask the global mind. We'll figure it out. It's really crazy just how they've rolled back so many just transparency standards that we had and they're laying the groundwork for gutting a lot of these government agencies and they keep telling you they're like small ones. It'll be like well, commerce, what do we need that for? I don't know. Maybe they regulate the census and the census is really important because it's what you people use to redistrict and gerrymander us out of winning elections all the time.
Ann: Yeah. And a lot of what I learn about how government actually runs comes from the years that I physically spent in DC and when it comes to . . . which is not to say that you can't understand this from reading the news or whatever, but a basic understanding of civics is not enough to understand what you just said in terms of why is the commerce department important? And I've been thinking a lot about I really want someone, like maybe some intrepid Vox reporter or something, to write a book that's like this is your everyday textbook. Not to how the separation of powers is supposed to work or how a bill becomes a law, but how things really happen in government right now. Because I think that is a reference book that we're going to need desperately in the next few years.
Aminatou: Yeah. And there's so many examples of this, right? So for example the Trump administration has called for a complete freeze of hiring across the federal government because they're perpetrating this lie that the government is the biggest that it's ever been which is actually not true. The government is quite small right now in terms of size. All this means is people in certain agencies can't hire. But guess what? Work still has to happen. So what are they going to do? They're going to outsource that work to contractors like me and pay me four to five times more than it actually costs to do that and nobody has saved money. That's what hiring freeze means. Also the hiring freeze is going to disproportionately affect veterans because the VA is the biggest employer they have.
Aminatou: And right now the VA has something like 40,000 jobs that are open. A lot of those are hospital jobs for VA hospitals. What does that do? So all of this is playing politics with people's lives and people will be put in really dangerous situations all for optics.
Ann: Oh yeah. And in case you're really upset about this and want to comment to the White House the comment line that you used to be able to call to make your voice heard to the president of the United States is no longer operational.
Aminatou: Yes. But they're right now directing you to a Facebook Messenger page that does not exist to leave your comment. But, you know, here's the other thing about all of this Ann is all of this news is out there and I've watched the two press conferences, or I guess the third one so far, with Sean Spicer and for all of these things he has some sort of lie ready. So for the White House comment line I think they're saying right now they don't know how to work their computers and who knows? It'll come back up soon. Some of these people you want to give them the benefit of the doubt but there's so many lies out there. So it's also becoming really hard to just parse out, you know, what am I reacting really strongly to that is a headline that won't pan out to what is actual real reported news?
Aminatou: And it doesn't help when the press secretary is a liar.
Aminatou: It's like so this is Tuesday. By the time Friday rolls around I'm fully convinced like nothing -- just all of our infrastructure . . .
Ann: I know. We really do have to put a timestamp. I feel like on all future podcasts we're going to have to say which day we recorded so that it's clear that when we miss eight other totally appalling things it's just because we'd already recorded the episode.
Aminatou: You know, it's really depressing, but I think that one way to look at it too is we have our marching orders, right? It seems really overwhelming because literally they're gutting everything right now. But it's we know the issues we need to focus on and you know the things you need to hound and harass your congress people about and the things that you need to show up at marches for because all of this stuff counts and all of it . . .
Ann: I know. And I have been guilty on a few counts. You know, my senator Kamala Harris has been very vocal about when she is standing up to certain things. And so, for example, if I see her tweet that she is going to do her best to block a certain nominee I don't call her office. And then I saw an email from a friend of mine saying that she reached out to Dianne Feinstein's office, another generally pretty progressive senator from my state.
Aminatou: Shout out, Dianne.
Ann: Yeah. But they were like listen, we decide how hard to push on something based on the number of emails we get. And so if you don't email, even if your senator is on the same page as you, they don't know that it's a priority for you. So that was a real wakeup call for me that even if my senator is on the right page and is telling me that we're on the same page I still need to write the email and be like keep standing up so that we don't get -- you know, we don't get these people confirmed or these policies passed.
Aminatou: Yeah. No, that's so true. It's like we have to pressure them to hold the line because to be fair to them they're fighting multiple battles at the same time. So if they don't hear from us about what is the most important it's just easy to lose that momentum.
Aminatou: God, there's so much work to do.
Ann: I know. I'm actually at a point now where I'm like is it better to send one long bulleted email or a different email for every issue? Like seriously there's so much stuff I'm really . . . I don't know.
Aminatou: There's so much stuff, but here's the thing about it is my congress person, Nydia Velazquez, what's up, very progressive, really cool Brooklyn rep. But still every time I call and I do my little rant and they tell me they've added me to the tally of something I get that it matters to them.
Ann: Right. Yeah, and so I think that for me that was -- I had been not like . . . not like I hadn't written a single letter but I'd sort of been a little lax, I think, when I assumed that my senators were on the same page as me or I knew them to be on the same page. So I guess hold them to the same page.
Aminatou: Yeah. It's like I was watching SNL, Ann, and it was Aziz Ansari was on SNL this weekend which I almost never watch SNL but this is worth it. And he called them the lowercase KKK. And I was like great burn. Thank you. These people are so fucking lazy and they're all liars and they're just such a disgrace to themselves.
Ann: I know. I also love how when you, for example, ask him if he's a Nazi -- there's been some reporting on this -- he's like "No, no, that's a historical term."
Aminatou: I love that we still haven't said his name because I'm like I don't want to give you any -- I'm not giving you a single . . .
Ann: Oh no, not at all. But I love how he's like "Nazi? That's a historical term that doesn't really apply to me." Like not because we have differing beliefs but because Nazi is too outdated a term. It's like wow. I mean, yeah.
Aminatou: Yeah. Ugh.
Ann: Speaking of moving away from the Nazis did you read this New Yorker article about super rich preppers?
Aminatou: You know I haven't read it because if I had it's all I would be talking about. I'm such a prep person and I'm obsessed with super-rich people, so you're telling me there are super-rich preppers?
Ann: Okay, well maybe we should define prepper for the listening audience. [Laughs]
Aminatou: A prepper is just basically a very . . . it's somebody who believes in a doomsday scenario, i.e. me, who prepares for it via various means. So the lowest level of this you could do is just have a go-bag and water in your closet but if you're a for real prepper you have a bunker and shit and a plan to leave the country.
Ann: I know. One of the good things is if you live in California and you already have your earthquake kit you're sort of a low-key prepper. [Laughs]
Aminatou: That's like prep 101.
Ann: 101, right, like I have a box of Quest bars and a barrel of water. That's 101.
Aminatou: You are going to make it six hours in the apocalypse.
Ann: I know. And now I just told everyone I have a barrel of water which means I'll be a target.
Aminatou: But, you know, maybe you'll repel them with Quest bars so everything is great.
Ann: [Laughs] Ugh. Anyway, so this New Yorker article though is about super-rich, mostly Silicon Valley super-rich, who are preparing for the end of days. So let me just read you this little part. "In private Facebook groups wealthy survivalists swap tips on gas masks, bunkers, and locations safe from the effects of climate change. One member, the head of an investment firm, told me 'I keep a helicopter gassed up all the time and I have an underground bunker with an air filtration system.' He said that his preparations probably put him at the 'extreme end' among his peers. But, he added, 'A lot of my friends do the guns and motorcycles and the gold coins. That's not too rare anymore.'"
Aminatou: Yeah. So tell me because I haven't read this article, there's a New Zealand reference, right? Because all the preppers want to move to New Zealand.
Ann: Obviously. "Reid Hoffman, cofounder of LinkedIn, was recently telling a friend he was thinking of visiting New Zealand. And the friend said 'Oh, are you going to get apocalypse insurance?'"
Aminatou: Oh my god.
Ann: "Saying you're 'buying a house in New Zealand' is kind of wink, wink, say no more."
Aminatou: Oh my gosh. I already have the blueprint. I just don't have enough money to do this.
Ann: The super-rich preppers? I'm like how long are you going to last in an air-filtered bunker if you have such an expensive lifestyle that you have your own helicopter? Like you're not going to last in that air-filtered bunker more than three days, truly. Yeah.
Aminatou: Right? Like you're going to have to let go of a lot of baggage. I think it was maybe earlier this year, or maybe last year -- let me look it up -- Anne Helen Petersen at BuzzFeed wrote a great piece about a survivalist mom. It was like the women preppers and it was really great.
Ann: Whoa. There's also, there was very recently, just like last week I think, an article about liberal preppers. Not necessarily rich preppers, but liberal preppers in BuzzFeed. Super organic, like survivalist chic stuff.
Aminatou: You're new to this. Yeah, it's about this woman Lisa Bedford who is the survival mom -- she has a blog -- and it's very good. But you should . . . we'll link to the article on the website so you can look at it.
Aminatou: Also, can I do a PSA? We've been getting a lot of tweets and Facebook messages that are like "The article that you talked about . . ." If you have a question about an article that we're sharing or a song that is on the show it's all on callyourgirlfriend.com.
Ann: Yeah, go to the episodes page and click on the episode you're listening to and there are always links to the stuff that we talk about.
Aminatou: Now I feel like I need to go home and work on my prepping skills.
Ann: I know. I'm like I'm going to eat something that's not six Quest bars for lunch. Shout out. [Laughs]
Aminatou: [Laughs] Right? I'm like I've got to go find a place to hide all my gold doubloons.
Ann: I'm going to make sure my helicopter is still gassed up. [Laughs]
Aminatou: Doubloon is truly my favorite word in the English language.
Ann: It sounds like a Victorian garment. You're out here in your doubloons waiting for the apocalypse to start.
Aminatou: Oh my god, look at that girl in her chic doubloons.
Ann: Very chic.
Aminatou: You can find us many places on the Internet, on our website callyourgirlfriend.com. You can download it anywhere you listen to your favorite podcasts or on iTunes where we would love it if you left us a review. You can tweet at us at @callyrgf or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also find us on Facebook -- look up the link yourself -- or on Instagram at callyrgf. You can even leave us a short and sweet voicemail at 714-681-2943. That's 714-681-CYGF. This podcast is produced by Gina Delvac.
Ann: See you on the Internet.
Aminatou: See you on the Internet, booboo.