Mapping Out A New Wisconsin And Beyond | Crooked Media
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February 19, 2024
What A Day
Mapping Out A New Wisconsin And Beyond

In This Episode

  • Wisconsin’s Democratic Governor Tony Evers signed new legislative maps into law on Monday, and broke a Republican gerrymander that has shaped the state’s politics for years. That means Democrats are pretty much set to gain seats in the state Assembly and state Senate this November. John Bisognano, president of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, explains what Wisconsin’s win means for the state and the nation.
  • Alexei Navalny, the head of Russia’s political opposition, died last Friday while serving over 30 years in an Arctic Penal Colony. That means that with less than a month before the country’s next presidential election, the party opposing Vladimir Putin’s regime has lost its most visible leader. It’s not clear how Navalny died, but his widow Yulia accused Putin himself of killing her husband.
  • And in headlines: Donald Trump is selling $400 sneakers while facing a $450 million fine in his New York fraud trial, the U.N’s highest court started hearing arguments on the legality of Israel’s 57-year occupation of Palestinian territories, and the Alabama Supreme Court ruled that frozen embryos are “children.”

 

Show Notes:

 

 

TRANSCRIPT

 

Josie Duffy Rice: It’s Tuesday, February 20th. I’m Josie Duffy Rice. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: And I’m Tre’vell Anderson. And this is What a Day, the pod that has a message for John Oliver, who’s offering Clarence Thomas one million dollars a year to resign from the Supreme Court. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: I will resign from the Supreme Court right now for half of that. [laughter] That’s a great deal. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: I’m sure that would be the easiest resignation letter you have ever written. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Ever written. [laughter] [music break]

 

Tre’vell Anderson: On today’s show, we explain the future of politics in Russia with the death of opposition leader Alexei Navalny. Plus, Trump was ordered to pay $450 million dollars in last week’s fraud ruling against him. And so on Saturday, he tried to raise money by selling Trump sneakers. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah, you heard that right. But first, an update on the fight for fair election maps that’s playing out state by state, because there is some good news out of Wisconsin yesterday. The state’s Democratic governor, Tony Evers, signed new state legislative maps into law. That broke a Republican gerrymander that has shaped Wisconsin’s politics for more than a decade. Take a listen to Governor Evers after the signing yesterday. 

 

[clip of  Governor Tony Evers] This is an important day and historic day for our state and for every person who calls Wisconsin home. Today is a day that I believe will define our state’s future. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: You know what? Another win. I will absolutely take it. But I need to know, is this going to kick in for this election year? Do we have to wait a couple years to see the results of it? 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Great question. This law actually takes effect immediately. So now Democrats are pretty much set to gain seats in the state Assembly and state Senate this November, barring any major upsets. And remember, the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s four three liberal majority struck down the Republican’s current district lines this past December. They were setting the stage to draw new maps if Evers and the legislature did not get there first. And now, here we are, a reminder that your state judicial elections actually matter a lot. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Absolutely. Especially here in Wisconsin. This liberal majority has made a huge difference. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah. The election of liberal Justice Janet Protasiewicz to the court has been enormous in this fight, and I wanted to speak with someone who’s been up close and personal with all of this. So I sat down with John Bisognano, president of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee. That’s an organization that fights against gerrymandering. And they poured resources into Wisconsin these last few years, which helped Justice Protasiewicz get on the bench. So I started by asking John what yesterday’s victory in Wisconsin means for the state and for the nation. 

 

John Bisognano: What this means is that we are going to have state legislative elections in Wisconsin for the first time in all of our lifetimes uh that will be run on fair maps, in which either party has the capacity to win and achieve the majority of those two chambers. It’s really amazing when you think about it from a historical perspective, and just thinking back as to how broken this system has been for so long. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah, that’s incredible to think about. Can you talk about what it took, what kinds of organizing it took, the legal efforts it took and the time it took? 

 

John Bisognano: Around the end of 2017 was the first time that we started to put the pieces together, that Wisconsin should be a high priority for us. It was very clear that Wisconsin was one of the most gerrymandered places in the country. But realistically, looking at how are we going to affect change? We began the process of generating support for a Supreme Court Justice candidate at that time, you have to put your mind before the 2018 elections in November that were so impactful and everyone was like, oh, it’s a blue wave. This is crazy. And so I think people still felt very burned, still felt a bit broken. And Scott Walker was still the governor in Wisconsin, you know, doing whatever he wanted. So putting yourself back in that mindset, it felt very distant, and it felt absurd to be trying to engage in a statewide election in Wisconsin at the time. But we pushed for it really, really hard. And we won that election in April. And that started a domino effect of getting us to a place where we really have both justices and legislators, and now a governor that signed new maps into law. This has been a really difficult road back to democracy from what really became almost an authoritarian system in that state for a long time. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah, absolutely. To your point about just the power of the GOP back in 2018 and really kind of the efforts they made before and since then, like when you look at maps throughout the nation, what has the GOP been able to pull off when it comes to these unbalanced maps? 

 

John Bisognano: The GOP still tries to do this endlessly. We have found ourselves in a new paradigm in redistricting, where we are living through a perpetual redistricting cycle. There is no ten year cycle. It doesn’t end and start. It’s constant and I think it’s become very clear that we’ve been able to fight back. And it’s given us purpose and drive to actually engage the GOP in a lot of these fights that had gone unnoticed for so many years. There’s a new Black district in Alabama, there are going to be two Black members of Congress from Alabama for the first time ever in Alabama, actually, and similarly in Louisiana, too. I mean, these are real concrete districts that have changed just because of the work that we’ve done. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: So give us an update on some of the other mapping battles happening in other states right now that we should be keeping an eye on. 

 

John Bisognano: There is still a battle around the Wisconsin congressional case. There’s a piece of litigation around Wisconsin congressional maps. We also are driving a case in Florida. There’s a number of cases in Florida actually seeking relief for gerrymandered congressional maps that DeSantis at this point has admitted they gerrymandered. And so we’re still in court in those states. Beyond that, we have continual cases in Texas. So I feel like Texas is most likely to get resolved for the 2026 cycle. But these cases take a really long time. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Are any of these battles in Democrats favor, or are we mostly playing defense here? 

 

John Bisognano: In Florida we’re seeking a better map than currently exists in Wisconsin. They’re seeking a better map. The ones I’m talking about right now are for 2024. In Texas, we’re seeking a much better map. Texas actually has a lot a huge implication on the congressional map moving forward. And then there’s still a few places that are unresolved, like New York is unresolved with this current cycle. So we should have a resolution in New York in the next couple weeks probably. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: A lot of our listeners like to get involved. They’re probably wondering how to keep this up and keep up this good fight. So what would you tell them? How can they get involved and be most effective? 

 

John Bisognano: From our perspective, please come join us. AllOnTheLine.org is our website also demredistricting.com. There’s a number of ways to get involved in the redistricting fight, but I think the most critical and most pertinent at this point is to continue to stay engaged with your state legislatures and realize and be informed on what’s happening in the day to day, because so much moves through these state legislative chambers, with governors as well. What ends up happening in state legislatures around the country really probably has a bigger day to day impact on most people’s lives than what happens in Congress or the White House. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: That was my conversation with John Bisognano, president of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, we’ll link to some of the orgs resources in our show notes. And as always, you can head to VoteSaveAmerica.com to find out how to get more involved this election year. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Thank you so much for that, Josie. Now on to an update on the major news out of Russia where with less than a month before the next presidential election, the party opposing Vladimir Putin’s regime has lost its most visible leader, Alexei Navalny. Alexi died last Friday while serving over 30 years in an Arctic penal colony, a sentencing that many believed to be politically motivated of course, he’s been in prison since 2021, but it’s also not clear how Alexei died. And so his widow Yulia has a theory. She’s accusing Putin himself of killing her husband. 

 

[clip of Yulia Navalny] [speaking in Russian] Vladimir Putin. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: In an almost nine minute video posted to social media Monday, Yulia makes an appeal, I’d say to the world, calling out Putin directly and committing to continue resisting against the Kremlin. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: A pretty devastating and important story out of Russia. And I feel like I probably know the answer to this, but is there going to be like an investigation here, like a real investigation or what’s going to happen? 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Well, you know, officially there is an investigation happening, but no one has any confidence in its results. And that’s because they think an entire coverup is happening. On Monday, Alexei’s mother was actually denied access to a morgue where Alexei’s body is believed to be, and she was denied access because his body is being held for 14 days. While authorities say they’ll conduct a chemical exam to do a toxicology and determine a cause of death. Alexei’s family, however, believes that Russian officials are buying time to cover their tracks while the trace of poison disappears from his body, which is how they believe Alexei was killed. But the official word, of course, which we should take all with a grain of salt as of now, is that Alexei quote, “fell unwell after a walk, almost immediately losing consciousness.” Then medical staff was called. They tried to resuscitate him unsuccessfully. Officials told Alexei’s mom that his cause of death was, quote, “sudden death syndrome,” which apparently is a vague catch all term for a host of varying heart conditions that can make a person go into cardiac arrest and suddenly die. You can be sure, though, that whatever the results of this formal investigation, it likely won’t stop people from believing that the Kremlin had something to do with it. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah. I mean, I think it’s kind of interesting how there are all these conditions that only affect people in prison. Sudden death syndrome, excited delirium, only when people are dealing with prisons and police do these come up. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: How ironic. Right? 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: It’s very ironic. So this pretty well based thought that maybe the Kremlin had something to do with this is like this coming from other governments. Are we hearing actual people in Russia saying this? Like, where is this kind of narrative coming from? 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Folks on the ground across Russia are definitely making their voices heard, even risking their lives to express their grief in public at the death of Alexei, at least 400 people have been detained across Russia since his death was announced. That’s according to the human rights group OVD-Info, and The New York Times called this the most significant set of arrests in the country since Russia’s war with Ukraine kicked off back in September of 2022. But beyond the local community, a number of world leaders have already come out and said that Russia and Putin should also be held accountable. In fact, European Union foreign ministers and other officials met with Alexei’s wife Yulia in Brussels on Monday and they’re considering sanctions against Russia. One of the reps even called for an independent international investigation into Alexei’s cause of death. Meanwhile, the Biden administration is also considering imposing additional sanctions on the country. And you know, for what it’s worth, the Kremlin has denied all of the allegations, calling them, quote, “boorish and inadmissible.” A spokesperson said to reporters, quote, “those statements can’t do any harm to the head of our state, but they certainly aren’t becoming for those who make them.” 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Unbecoming is such a specific denial [laughter] if someone has accused you of murder. So you mentioned that an election is coming. What happens now? What does this mean for that? 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Putin was always going to be the likely victor of that election, which is happening next month, winning another six years to terrorize people unnecessarily. But with Alexei’s death, which is ultimately still a sign of Putin’s power, whether he had that man killed or not. The Washington Post is calling Putin unstoppable. So, you know, not the best of news here, but we will be sure to keep y’all posted on what comes next. That is the latest, though. We’re going to pay some bills and be right back. [music break]

 

[AD BREAK] 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Let’s get to some headlines. 

 

[sung] Headlines. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: So first, let’s catch you up on the big news from last Friday, when a New York judge ruled that Donald Trump and his 15 co-defendants must pay at least $450 million dollars in damages and interest in his civil business fraud trial, $450 million dollars. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Wow. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: This is the case in which New York Attorney General Letitia James alleged that Trump and his business partners lied about the worth of their assets to get loans they otherwise did not qualify for. Trump said on Friday that he plans to appeal the ruling, but with payment due in less than 30 days, it seems that he’s already looking for ways to pony up the cash. On Saturday, Trump showed up at Philadelphia Sneaker Convention to announce a new line of Trump branded sneakers. For the cheap price of $399 you can get the Never Surrender High Tops, which are just a pair of gold shoes with an American flag design, or for the lower price of $199. You can take home some firetruck red athletic shoes with T45 printed on them. Take a listen to how the crowd reacted to his sales pitch. 

 

[clip of Donald Trump] Wow. A lot of emotion. There’s a lot of emotion in this room. [sound of booing and jeering] Thank you, thank you.

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Okay. Yes. Lots of emotions. I don’t know if the people were into the shoes or not, though. It didn’t sound positive. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: It didn’t sound good, but I wouldn’t pay $400 shoes from you, ever.

 

Tre’vell Anderson: But also, they’re ugly, okay? 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: They’re hideous. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: They look like shoes that the Lions on first season of Empire would have worn.  

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Mmm. That’s so–

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Just like– 

 

–specific and so accurate. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Super gold, super gaudy like don’t nobody want that. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Also they don’t give January 6th. [laughter] I don’t feel like the people at January 6th are feeling these shoes. Know your audience. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Know your audience. [laugh] Turning to the Middle East, the UN’s highest court started hearing arguments yesterday on the legality of Israel’s 57 year occupation of Palestinian territories. The case is before the International Court of Justice, the same court hearing the genocide case against Israel. And this one is focused on Israel’s, quote, “prolonged occupation, settlement, and annexation of Palestinian territories, including the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip.” And although the hearings are taking place amid the Israel-Hamas war, they were requested by a U.N. General Assembly vote back in 2022. On the first day of the hearings, the Palestinian Authority’s foreign minister, Riyad al-Maliki, accused Israel of colonialism and apartheid. Take a listen to what he had to say. 

 

[clip of Riyad al-Maliki] The only solution, consistent with international law, is for this illegal occupation to come to an immediate, unconditional and total end. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Unconditional. Okay. Yesterday’s arguments kicked off six days of scheduled hearings, and more than 50 states are expected to address the panel of judges. Israel has said it will not participate in the oral arguments. Meanwhile, the United States has proposed a U.N. Security Council resolution in support of a temporary ceasefire in Gaza, quote, “as soon as practicable.” The resolution also calls for the release of all hostages, and says Israel’s planned ground offensive in Rafah should, quote, “not proceed under current circumstances.” The draft comes after the US vowed to veto an Arab backed proposal demanding an immediate humanitarian cease fire in the war. The Security Council is expected to vote on that proposal this morning. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Now to Alabama, where the state Supreme Court there issued an unprecedented ruling this past Friday saying that frozen embryos are children, a move that reproductive rights advocates say could have serious implications for in-vitro fertilization or IVF. The case stems from a lawsuit in which three couples sued medical facilities in Alabama over the accidental destruction of their frozen embryos. They accused the defendants of wrongful death, among other things. A lower court dismissed the lawsuit. But on Friday, the Alabama High Court reversed that decision and ruled that the person who accidentally dropped and destroyed the embryos could be held liable in a wrongful death lawsuit. In his opinion, Supreme Court Justice Jay Mitchell wrote that the wrongful death of a minor act, quote, “applies to all children born and unborn, without limitation.” And in a concurring opinion, Chief Justice Tom Parker brought in the biblical scripture writing, quote, “human life cannot be wrongfully destroyed without incurring the wrath of a holy God who views the destruction of his image as an affront to himself.” This is the same state, remember that in the past couple of weeks executed someone via gas. So I don’t know about this human life cannot be wrongfully destroyed. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: It’s giving hypocrisy. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: They don’t seem to believe that themselves. Abortion rights advocates say this decision could affect whether patients even decide to go forward with IVF. And it could also make health care providers more hesitant to provide care for embryos. Dana Sussman, the deputy director of Pregnancy Justice, a reproductive rights group, told Jezebel that the latest ruling is, quote, “part of the same agenda to control and criminalize pregnant people.” Because Tre’vell, they’re ruling in favor of the parents of the embryos in this case. But in practice, this is actually going to hurt people who maybe do IVF, have successful IVF, and don’t plan on having more children because they don’t really have control over what happens with their remaining embryos. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: This is not great, is what you’re telling me. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: It’s really bad news. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Huh yi yi. And finally, we can’t let you go without addressing the hilarious and heinous crime that was committed on Thursday, when the NYPD’s dance team made their debut performance on local television. Yes, you heard that right. The New York Police Department has a dance team. Okay. A few women officers started the group in 2022, and have been practicing 2 to 3 times a week ever since. And they usually perform at gatherings with other members of the force or at school events. But on Thursday, they made their big break. I guess you can say when PIX11 news, a local TV station, gave them the floor to put on a show set to the musical stylings of Flo Rida’s “Club can’t handle me.” We know that you can’t watch along with us because we’re a podcast. We’re going to link to the video in our show notes, but I’m going to do my best job to paint a picture of the atrocities that were broadcast on the air. Okay. Picture it. A group of seven women proudly sporting black and blue NYPD jerseys, shorts, they got knee pads. And when it came to the performance, one Twitter user, I would say accurately put it, okay that the police were not protecting and they definitely were not serving. The choreography was giving JV cheer team meets Zumba. I want you to take a listen to what the news anchors had to say after the women hit their final pose. 

 

[clip of unspecified PIX11 news anchor] [clapping] Man. [?] Did you did you see some of those high kicks? I would not want to mess with them in the middle of a dark alley. 

 

[clip of unspecified PIX11 news anchor] [?] 

 

[clip of unspecified PIX11 news anchor] Wow. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: First of all, why would you be messing with them in the middle of a dark alley? 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: [laughing] Everything from my vantage point, okay. There was no rhythm. There was no synchronization. There wasn’t even no energy on the premises. Okay. Clips of the performance quickly went viral on social media over the weekend. Josie, surely we can charge these people with something for subjecting us to this foolishness? 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: I don’t want to sink to their level by bringing charges. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Good point. Good point. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: But they deserve it. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: [laughing] Listen. Apparently there are a lot of these affinity groups within the NYPD, there’s a football club, there’s a knitting club, a chess club. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Well, I hope the rest of their hobbies are going better than this one. If you and your work friends are going to be on the nightly news for dancing, you better be phenomenal. You better be killing it. And they are not. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Yet another example of copaganda. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Oof. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: To lead us to believe that the cops are going to be getting down with us, you know, at the next cookout or something, and we just know that’s not necessarily the case. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Oof. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: And those are the headlines. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: One more thing before we go. Sad, today is the last day on the WAD Squad for our producer Itxy Quintanilla. She’s off to become a senior producer at a new venture, which we will hex until the end of time. But before she goes. The rest of the team does want to send their best. 

 

Raven Yamamoto: Itxy, I’m going to miss everything about you. I’m so sad you’re leaving us. But I have to say, I think the thing I’ll miss the most is your laugh. It’s so cute and adorable and I’ve loved sharing so many of those laughs with you on this team for the past several months, you have brought so much joy and light to this team and you are so going to be missed. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Itxy, darling, it’s been an absolute pleasure working with you and I’m wishing you all the best in your new adventures. Oh, I’m going to miss you so much because you’re the best. 

 

[unspecified WAD squad team member] Hey Itxy,  good luck in your new job. We’re all going to miss you. 

 

Leo Duran: Itxy, one of the huge highlights of coming back to the WAD squad temporarily has been working with you. It’s been so great and I’m super excited for what’s going to happen next. So obviously stay in touch. But forever you’re part of the WAD squad. 

 

[unspecified WAD squad team member] Itxy, you’re seriously one of the kindest and sharpest producers I’ve ever worked with, and we’re really going to miss you a lot, but so excited for what’s next for you. 

 

Bill Lancz: Itxy, making a daily news show can be a frustrating and stressful experience, but working with you, you would never know it. We will definitely miss your unflappable calm and constant smiles every day. Good luck. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Itzy, thank you so much for everything you’ve done for our show. You kept everything running smoothly during such a crazy time for our team, and you brought so much positive energy to the show and our meetings, everything. We’re going to miss you so much around here, but we are really excited about your next opportunity. And as a senior producer, you are going to crush it. Congratulations. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Listen, I love that everyone noted Itxy’s positive and light spirit that she brings to this team. Because, listen, it’s vital for the type of work that we do in here. We need people who got positive energy. And Itzy has always been just an easy, nice, positive spirit to like, help us push through all of the foolishness. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Yes, Itxy has had just such a great impact on our team. She’s incredible to work with. Like you said, she keeps our spirits up. She has great judgment, which is another incredible skill um in this role. And she’s kept this place running so well. We are going to miss her so much on What a Day. I am only going to cry myself to sleep like five times this week, but we are so excited for what comes next for her. So Itxy, the door is always open, if you ever want to come back. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Absolutely. [music break] That is all for today. If you like the show make sure you subscribe. Leave a review. Dance like no one’s watching except they are, because there’s body cam footage. And tell your friends to listen. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: [laugh] And if you’re into reading and not just waiting to see Trump sneakers in a TJ Maxx like me, What a Day is also a nightly newsletter, so check it out and subscribe at crooked.com/subscribe. I’m Josie Duffy Rice. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: I’m Tre’vell Anderson. 

 

[spoken together] And John Oliver is our retirement plan. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: When you work in media you need something and ours is John Oliver. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: You need something okay. Does John Oliver provide a 401K as well? 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Because if so, I will get on the Supreme Court just for that. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Listen. Thinking long term. Okay. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Truly. [music break]

 

Tre’vell Anderson: What a Day is a production of Crooked Media. It’s recorded and mixed by Bill Lancz, our show’s producer is Itxy Quintanilla. Raven Yamamoto and Natalie Bettendorf are our associate producers, and our showrunner is Leo Duran. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka. 

 

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