The Far Right's Not Alright | Crooked Media
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July 23, 2023
What A Day
The Far Right's Not Alright

In This Episode

  • Israel’s parliament is set to vote today on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plan to reform the country’s judicial system. Thousands of demonstrators have taken to the streets across Israel to protest the proposal, saying that it threatens the country’s democratic foundation.
  • Voters in Spain cast their ballots in what was arguably one of the most important elections in that country in years. Though no single party captured an outright majority, the results defied expectations that Spain’s far-right would secure a role in government for the first time in decades.
  • And in headlines: Russian airstrikes damaged a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the Ukrainian city of Odesa, wildfires burning on the Greek island of Rhodes forced tens of thousands of evacuations, and the Barbie movie made box office history on its opening weekend.


Show Notes:



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Tre’vell Anderson: It’s Monday, July 24th. I’m Tre’vell Anderson.


Priyanka Aribindi: And I’m Priyanka Aribindi. And this is What A Day where for the first time ever, we are going to follow Elon Musk’s lead and change our name to a single letter. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Yep, we’re going to go with the letter Y because that’s the question we’re always asking ourselves. Why?


Priyanka Aribindi: You know what? That’s not a bad idea, actually. [laughter] [music break] On today’s show, Alabama Republicans have done the absolute least to follow a federal court order to empower Black voters. Plus, the Barbie movie, it made herstory in its opening weekend. 


Tre’vell Anderson: But first, we have an update on the demonstrations in Israel opposing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plan to reform the country’s judicial system. As we’ve covered on the show, Israel is in what the BBC calls one of its most serious domestic crises ever, as hundreds of thousands of folks are packing the streets across the country. This is all in advance of a vote by parliament that will happen later today. 


Priyanka Aribindi: So to quickly recap, what are these reforms that Netanyahu is calling for and why are so many people protesting? 


Tre’vell Anderson: Israel is another one of those countries we’ve talked about that are experiencing a shift to the right. Dare I say alt right socio politically. And so what we’re seeing in the country is this split between the hella conservative folks who are in power and a more liberal populace. Those folks in power have made long standing attacks on LGBTQ+ communities, religious freedom, Israeli and Palestinian civil society. And even those who can call themselves Jewish. As for the reforms in question, they concern the power of the government versus the power of the courts. There are four main points. One, they want to weaken the power of the Supreme Court to review or throw out laws and give parliament the ability to overrule the Supreme Court with a simple majority vote. Number two, they want to give the government a decisive say over who becomes a judge, including who serves on the Supreme Court. Number three, they want to allow ministers to ignore the advice of their legal advisers who are guided by the attorney general. Currently, ministers are required by law to listen to their advisers. Which seems to make sense to me. But, you know, whatever. Okay.


Priyanka Aribindi: Sure. 


Tre’vell Anderson: [laugh] And then the vote happening today is on point number four, which is a bill that would limit or remove the Supreme Court’s power to overrule government or ministerial decisions which it deems to be unreasonable. So with this idea, it would be similar to Congress being able to overturn the Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe versus Wade, for example. 


Priyanka Aribindi: That’s a good example, but uh I don’t think any of these things are sounding all that great. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Not at all. And as you might imagine, right. People are protesting because they see these types of reforms as threatening the country’s democracy, which is exactly what it is. It’s basically an aim to limit or remove some of those typical checks and balances on parliament and to dilute the power of the courts. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Right. 


Tre’vell Anderson: And the situation is even worse because Netanyahu is currently in some legal trouble of his own. He’s been charged with fraud, breach of trust and accepting bribes in three separate scandals, though, he’s denied any wrongdoing. They always deny any wrongdoing. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Mmm. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Folks are noting how some of these judicial reforms would likely help him avoid any sort of accountability regarding these allegations. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Hmm. What a very curious coincidence. That is so wild. Anyways, that is all crazy. But there were also reports over the weekend that Netanyahu was in the hospital. So a lot going on here. What do we know about that? 


Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah. So as of yesterday, he was recovering in a hospital after having had an emergency heart procedure. He had to have a pacemaker implanted. But in a short video address, he assured folks that he’d be back at the Knesset with his administration today to cast his vote. But like I said, hundreds of thousands of folks have been protesting these reforms literally since the top of the year. Even members of the Israeli military are concerned about how these measures will change things for the worse. So we’ll have to wait and see how today’s vote shakes out and, you know, see where this issue goes from here. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Got it. Okay. So we’ll be keeping our eyes on that. In other major international news. Yesterday, people in Spain went to the polls for arguably the country’s most important election in years, one that is resulting in a little bit of a political mess at the moment. So with nearly all votes counted, returns indicate that no single political party or existing coalition has won enough seats in the country’s Congress of Deputies to declare victory outright. Between Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez’s Socialist party, and his conservative opponents, the Popular Party, neither was able to secure the necessary 176 seats for the majority outright or when combined with the parties that they would likely team up with to form their own governments. This means that Spain is heading towards weeks of negotiation between parties to either form a new government or if that doesn’t work, they will head back to the polls for a whole new vote later this year. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Okay, so tell us, was this what we were expecting to happen or is this, you know, a surprise? 


Priyanka Aribindi: This is not really what was expected at all. So there was a lot of fear that a far right anti-immigration party known as Vox would end up teaming up with the conservative Popular Party to form a coalition and take power. This didn’t happen even though the Popular Party won 136 seats, which is the most of any party in this election. Vox ended up losing 19 seats, which means that together they didn’t have enough support to clear that threshold of 176 seats. But that was not what was expected here. A right wing takeover was being predicted, which is both incredibly surprising for Spain, but would have echoed some of what else has happened across Europe in recent years. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Okay. So how did this happen in the first place? How did we get here? 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, so it is a really interesting situation. Let’s start first with some context. So the current prime minister of Spain, Pedro Sanchez, has been in power for five years now. He leads a left wing coalition that includes his own Spanish Socialist Worker’s Party. But it is a very fragile coalition. Under his leadership, Spain has weathered COVID. It’s stabilized its economy and political system. It’s seen strong economic growth and low inflation. He’s also very popular within the EU. But it’s not all perfect. Not everybody’s happy. Spain still has the highest unemployment in the EU and not everybody is thrilled with some of his social policies. On the other hand, you have the conservative Popular Party, or PP and their leader Alberto Nuñez Feijoo, as well as Vox, this unabashedly ultranationalist, anti-immigrant, anti-feminist, anti-science, anti LGBTQ party. Vox was originally a very small group of former PP members, but in recent years it’s become Spain’s third largest political party, which of course, is incredibly concerning. Back in May, Prime Minister Sanchez’s party and their allies had some pretty big losses in regional and municipal elections. And after that happened, Sanchez dissolved parliament and called for this snap election. But instead of the end of the year, when it would typically be held, the date was pushed up to July. Before this, the PP didn’t officially say that they would try to team up with Vox to form a government. But after the May elections, where the Social Democratic Party suffered, the PP and Vox formed lots of local coalition agreements, leading many to believe that that would have happened had they had the numbers in this election. And of course, that didn’t happen yesterday, but they still could secure the majority through some wheeling and dealing with other smaller regional parties, just as Prime Minister Sanchez’s party could do with other parties. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Gotcha. Okay. So you mentioned earlier about this being something that we’re seeing happening across Europe and in other places. How exactly does this fit into context with the rest of the continent and what we’re seeing lately? 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, it’s a really good question. So right wing populism has, of course, been on the rise for some time now across Europe, Latin America, right here in the U.S., we are not immune. But for a long time, those nationalist sentiments did not catch on in Spain, probably in large part due to their history, Francisco Franco’s decades long dictatorship in the country. But those feelings started to change recently, at least for some people in Spain. The secessionist movement in Catalonia, for example, is cited as one of the things that revived some of this nationalist sentiment. We still don’t know what exactly will end up happening. Vox could become a part of the Spanish government with the PP and other parties. That would be the first time a far right party has been a part of the leading coalition since Spain became a democracy again in the seventies. So quite some time. But all of this remains to be seen in the coming weeks, like who will be able to form the coalition? Will they be able to do it at all? Do they all have to go back to the polls? We’ll obviously continue to keep you updated on any new developments here. But that is the latest for now. We’ll be back after some ads. [music break]. 




Tre’vell Anderson: Now let’s wrap up with some headlines. 


[sung] Headlines. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Another wave of Russian airstrikes hit the Ukrainian city of Odessa yesterday, killing at least one person and injuring several others. It’s the latest in a barrage of attacks against the southern port city and the surrounding region over the past week. Yesterday’s strike also damaged several historical buildings, including the Transfiguration Cathedral, the city’s largest church building. It was first consecrated in the early 1800s before it was destroyed in 1936 and was later rebuilt after Ukraine regained its independence from the Soviet Union. The Kremlin denies targeting the church, which was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site before the Russian invasion began last year. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky condemned the latest strike and vowed retaliation, saying, quote, “There can be no excuse for Russian evil.” 


Priyanka Aribindi: Roughly 19,000 people were evacuated over the weekend from parts of the Greek island of Rhodes, where over 160 wildfires have been raging for several days. That is 160 wildfires. Wild to even comprehend. This is the largest evacuation in the country’s modern history as flights have been canceled and makeshift evacuation centers have been set up in other hotels, gyms and conference centers in safe parts of the island. Rhodes is a popular vacation destination, and guests at at least a dozen hotels were told to leave before it was too late. So far, Greece, like so many other places around the world right now, is facing its longest heatwave on record. And Greece and other parts of the Mediterranean may not get much relief. Temperatures are expected to climb above 40 degrees Celsius or 104 degrees Fahrenheit for at least the next few days. And the extreme heat could last through the end of the month. 


Tre’vell Anderson: The Department of Justice is about to mess with Texas and for a good reason. The DOJ has threatened to sue over dangerous floating barriers installed in the Rio Grande, meant to deter migrants from crossing into the U.S. from Mexico. We told you about these barriers last week and how officers working for Governor Greg Abbott’s so-called border security detail, have reportedly called them inhumane. They’re basically large floating barrels with a mesh netting attached to them to keep people from swimming underneath them. And some are even wrapped in razor wire. In a letter sent to Texas officials late last week, the Justice Department warned that Texas may have violated federal law by putting them in the river in the first place. Governor Abbott, for his part, doubled down on Friday, saying in a tweet, quote, “We’ll see you in court, Mr. President.” Greg Abbott, just like to fight. I don’t even think he cares about what the law says or doesn’t say. He’s just trying to wreak havoc. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Truly. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Anyway, the DOJ says it will drop the matter if Texas commits to removing the barriers by 1 p.m. Central Time today. 


Priyanka Aribindi: So the DOJ has given them the easiest out here, like just get rid of it and no legal action. Everything is good, which is in the first place is crazy. But you know, they’re giving them an out. Will they take it, though? I feel like they are– 


Tre’vell Anderson: Probably not. 


Priyanka Aribindi: –probably not smart enough to do, [laughing] do the right thing here. [laughter] And we have an update for you about a story we told you last Wednesday. Alabama’s Republican led legislature on Friday approved a new, albeit half assed congressional map that critics say does not satisfy a recent ruling from the Supreme Court. To give you a quick refresher, the state had until the end of last week to come up with a new map that creates two majority Black districts. Instead, Republican lawmakers went ahead and carved out one new district that barely meets that requirement, along with a second district with fewer than 50% Black residents. Now, the group of voters who took their original case to the Supreme Court said that they will challenge the new plan in federal court, arguing that it does not comply with the Voting Rights Act. The three judge panel that struck down Alabama’s 2022 maps will hear the case on August 14th and could potentially order a special master to draw new lines for the state, as Democratic State Representative Chris England put it, quote, “Alabama does what Alabama does. What we are hoping for is that the federal court does what it always does to Alabama, forces us to do the right thing.” Well, listen, that’s very self-aware. If only everyone else in Alabama thought the same thing. 


Tre’vell Anderson: [laughing] If only. And finally, to close out with a big splash of pink, the Barbie movie made box office history in its opening weekend, raking in a cool $155 million dollars in ticket sales. It’s not just the most successful opening weekend for a film this year. It’s also the biggest debut weekend ever for a movie helmed by a female director. So shout out to our girl, Greta Gerwig. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Hell yeah. 


Tre’vell Anderson: And in a stunning rebuke to the superhero movie industrial complex. The pink studded blockbuster also outdid every Marvel movie that’s come out this year. So suck it, Kevin Feige. And if you care about Oppenheimer, which some of us don’t, but we have a duty to uphold our reputation as a balanced news outlet, mm hmm.


Priyanka Aribindi: That we do. 


Tre’vell Anderson: [laugh] It lagged behind Barbie, but still pulled in over $80 million dollars at the box office. So let’s just say the femmes are winning, as we always do, period. 


Priyanka Aribindi: As usual. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Competition aside, though, the two movies combined brought people back to theaters in record numbers. Barbenheimer weekend raked in a total of $302 million dollars in domestic ticket sales, making it the fourth highest grossing movie weekend of all time in North America. And that figure could climb even higher once final numbers are tallied up later today. 


Priyanka Aribindi: What an exciting achievement. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Have you seen it yet? Have you– 


Priyanka Aribindi: I have not. 


Tre’vell Anderson: –witnessed the Barbie craze in person? 


Priyanka Aribindi: I have not witnessed Barbie yet. I know you’re not even asking about Oppenheimer. That’s not on my list. I’m so sorry. Not the kind of film I would see. No disrespect to anyone who it is. That’s fine, just not for me. I haven’t seen Barbie yet, but not because I don’t want to. Just because this weekend, not a good weekend for me. But planning on seeing it this week. I’m thrilled. I’ve heard nothing but good things. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah. 


Priyanka Aribindi: I’m really excited. 


Tre’vell Anderson: It’s so good. It’s super camp. It’s high camp. Okay.


Priyanka Aribindi: What was the vibe at the theater? I imagine, like, the atmosphere was, like, even more fun just to be around, like people dressed up. 


Tre’vell Anderson: I went to a 9:30 a.m. viewing. Um. [laughter]


Priyanka Aribindi: Wow. 


Tre’vell Anderson: But– 


Priyanka Aribindi: Different vibe. 


Tre’vell Anderson: But there were still people dressed in their Barbie attire at 9:30 a.m.. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Wow. 


Tre’vell Anderson: So. 


Priyanka Aribindi: I love it. 


Tre’vell Anderson: You know, the passion is real. Okay people?


Priyanka Aribindi: Love it. 


Tre’vell Anderson: And those are the headlines. 




Tre’vell Anderson: That is all for today. If you like this show, make sure you subscribe. Leave a review. Dare to visit the world outside of your Barbie dream house and tell your friends to listen. 


Priyanka Aribindi: And if you’re into reading and not just panicked reviews of the Barbie movie from conservative influencers like me, What A Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at I’m Priyanka Aribindi. 


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


[spoken together] And don’t forget your rollerblades. 


Priyanka Aribindi: I might need to forget mine. 


Tre’vell Anderson: I’m going to say, this makes a lot more sense to the folks who have actually seen the movie, but like once you see it, it’ll make sense. 


Priyanka Aribindi: It will all makes sense? 


Tre’vell Anderson: Mm hmm. 


Priyanka Aribindi: I don’t know if I’m coordinated enough to uh bring those to the movie theater. 


Tre’vell Anderson: [laughing] Valid point. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Do I get to wear the wrist guards? [laughter] Feels necessary. [laughter]


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. Our intern is Ryan Cochran, and our senior producer is Lita Martinez. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka. [music break]