V Interesting

Midterm Mayhem, Recuse Me, Iran from America

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It’s midterm Tuesday, people! Did you know polling places used to have alcohol onsite? And that future elections could be controlled by fewer and fewer people? V’s talking everything voting — past, present, and future. They’ll also turn an eye to the Supreme Court, which was down one justice in a recent case. Then, V is joined by Negin Farsad, comedian and host of the podcast Fake the Nation. With lineage and firsthand experience in Iran, Negin shares what it’s really like under an authoritarian government and offers ways we can help those fighting against it.

Follow Negin Farsad at @neginfarsad on Twitter and Instagram, and find Fake the Nation wherever you listen to podcasts.

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Negin Farsad, V Spehar

V Spehar  00:00

Hey friends, it’s Tuesday, November 8, 2022. Welcome to V INTERESTING, where we break down the viral and very interesting news you might have missed.

V Spehar  00:20

I’m vSphere. And today, we’ll get into how Hillary Clinton is predicting the next presidential election could be stolen. Is she right? I sure hope not. But it wouldn’t be the first time we’re going to be talking about voting, past, present, and future. Which reminds me, you have to get out and vote today is election day. It’s the midterms, people. Plus, what exactly is a recusal and who should be doing it. Then we’re blessed with the presence of Negin Farsad, who takes us from laughter to tears in seconds, she comes on to talk about being an Iranian American comedian, and what her experience in Iran has taught her about this current moment. All that more on today’s V INTERSTING from Lemonada Media. Let’s be smart together.

V Spehar  01:12

First up in the headlines, it is election day, friends, we made it, it’s here it’s happening, you can finally take down those yard signs. And we can all take a break from the political ads on radio and television. And even maybe take a break from some of your favorite past presidents making TikTok’s, although that’s less fun, but man, it sure does feel like it’s taken forever to get here, right? Just think about everything that came before elections as we know them today. We’ve had fights for suffrage and fights for voter access and history making campaigns. All of that paved the way. But did you know that the physical act of voting has also come a long way. American voting has taken many, many forms, and some of them as you can imagine, have been pretty messy. Let’s go back to the late 1700s. When Election Day was chaos, votes were submitted verbally. No paper trail, no privacy, just good old voice voting. You’d roll up to the courthouse swear on a Bible that you weren’t stealing someone else’s identity. And then shout your choice to the clerk. Politicians were allowed to campaign on site to they could be right there in your face when you showed up to vote just also shouting in your face. Oh, and you could drink on site. It was literally a party, whiskey for everyone. history.com writes that, quote, a drunken carnival atmosphere often accompanied early American elections, which might explain why elections in the voice voting era commanded turnout rates as high as 85%. Voting changed as time went on, but it stayed pretty wild. In the early 1800s. Actual ballots emerged. But they were just scraps of paper that you like freehand wrote your choice on. Later on, an inventor created a voting machine with a bunch of levers, each candidate had a lever, or you could push one big lever to just vote for the same party line all down the ballot, an early version of this voting machine reportedly had more moving parts than a car. So yeah, it was prone to breaking down, not great. As time went on mechanical issues continued to be a problem at polling places. And the 2000 presidential election, all eyes were on punch card ballots, you guys remember those, it was supposed to be the future of voting since they could be scanned by computers. But that 2000 race was close. And you’ll recall that it went to a recount. And every ballot where a punch was just slightly off. It needed a manual inspection, and there were tons of these ballots. So when you look at the bubble ballots of today, and you think about all the trial and error that came before, I’m sure you can suddenly feel as grateful as I do for those private booths, and just how simple it is to fill in the bubble. And how safe and secure our elections are here in America. You get to wield a pen and make a mark and there’s some structure to show you what to do even, and let’s be real. Anything beats some guy hollering out his vote right next to you. Did I mentioned today is election day. Well, it is and as we’ve said in previous episodes, the results of today’s midterm elections will be consequential. They’ll either expand or severely limit President Biden’s power and in significant ways. Naturally, people are starting to think ahead to the presidential election two years from now, and they are wondering how it might change things even more. Hillary Clinton wasted no time in sharing her predictions. And a video posted to Twitter a few weeks ago by the nonprofit indivisible, Hillary said this.

V Spehar  04:39

No, they’re not planning to steal it by having each voter submit 40 ballots, and they’re not planning to do it by having dead people vote, believe it or not, that stuff literally does not happen. It doesn’t happen. To clarify things. Here’s what Hillary means by steal. What Hillary is referring to is a case that the Supreme Court is hearing in this current cycle. That case is Moore vs. Harper. In this case, the court will be taking up something called quote, independent state legislature theory. It is a fringe interpretation of the Constitution that gives more power to the state governments than they currently have. Now, if you’re like me, and you have read the entire constitution, but like, you know, maybe not since eighth grade, here’s what’s in their independent state legislature theory focuses on two clauses in the Constitution. There’s one that says the state legislatures get to choose how they appoint electors to the electoral college. And then there’s another that says they also get to decide how they run their local elections. The federal government gets final say on those two things, but mostly trust the states to work them out on their own. This is where it gets very murky, because some people disagree on how the states should do it. The popular understanding is that state law is handled by different groups. There’s the legislature itself. So you know, like your state reps and your state senators who report to the State House, but it also involves the state courts and the governor. All together, they create checks and balances, just like the federal level does, which you guys are very familiar with, right? You’ve seen this happen a bunch of times this idea of checks and balances. For example, a vote in a state senate is subject to a governor’s veto, right? Like it’s not supposed to be like authoritarian. However, when it comes to these specific election related rights we’re talking about some folks want to take what they’re calling a purist stance. Since the Constitution says state legislatures have the right to choose the electors and run local elections. These people want you to believe that the founders meant the state legislature could just throw out the popular vote and independently decide who wins office. Why have the people voted all then. And in addition, the state legislatures could tell the governor to kick rocks if he tries to, like hold anyone accountable to the people. They really want you to believe after all of this time, that the Founding Fathers really thought only state reps and state senators should be choosing elected officials and not the people. I don’t know, man. But that’s what this theory is called. And again, it is called the independent state legislature theory. And that’s what it’s all about. Under this model, they are just trying to take away the checks and balances.

V Spehar  07:55

Now, if you’re like okay, wait, hold up. What is an elector again? an elector is the person who votes in the Electoral College for a presidential election, they take a vow to cast a vote that represents how their state’s population voted, and if electors go rogue, currently, they can face penalties and fines. Some states just void their votes altogether if they go rogue. It’s a flawed system. But at least there are rules under the independent state legislature, though none of that would be guaranteed, none of it. The fear is that state reps and state senators could select a whole new slate of electors that don’t represent the popular vote of the people. They could just pick people who would vote for whoever the legislature wants, regardless again, of what the people want. And that’s not all. In lower level elections, an independent state legislature could strip so many people of their rights because remember, there’s no outside oversight. So your state constitution outlaws gerrymandered districts, too bad the state courts can’t intervene to stop them from being drawn. Election commissioners and secretaries of state used to be the official overseers of elections under this theory no longer and no, the governor wouldn’t even be able to veto any of these decisions. If these folks get their way. It is cuckoo bananas. Right? It is terrible news. Yet this is a real life vision being pushed by Uber conservative groups. If state independent legislature theory takes hold, then yes, Hillary could very well be right than upcoming election could be stolen. And it could happen fast, like the graying of my hair over these political times. Or it can happen slowly through things like redistricting, and nullifying voter rights over time. Because that’s possible when power is in the hands of the few. concentrated power is exactly what the founding fathers were trying to avoid. But by giving so much power to the states from the jump, they actually set up greedy politicians who want to hoard power up to be autocrats. And now it’s coming down to the Supreme Court to decide if the American experiment will try out a wee bit of fascism.

V Spehar  10:04

Oh man, no, we’re not done yet. It is up to the Supreme Court to make sure elections have integrity, right. That’s great. That’s what they should be doing. But who was responsible for making sure the Supreme Court has integrity? The answer to this, my friends is not a who, but a what? You’re probably familiar with the lengthy confirmation proceedings for Supreme Court justices where they are grilled about their past and where we found out that Brett Kavanaugh just really likes beer. But we also have something called a recusal. Once an official moves into a position of power, they might realize that they have a conflict of interest with a particular assignment. If they recuse themselves, they abstain from participating. For example, in 2017, former Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russia and the 2016 presidential election. Now he chose to step down after a lot of pressure because he failed to disclose that he had passed communication with a Russian Ambassador […] at least he stepped down right that was the right thing to do. Another example is playing out right before our eyes. Last week, the Supreme Court heard two cases on affirmative action, one at the University of North Carolina and one at Harvard. They are huge cases that could completely change the college landscape. And Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson has recused herself from hearing the Harvard case. Now KBJ attended undergrad and law school at Harvard, and she’s a former member of its Board of Overseers. That’s a group of rotating alumni that helps the school make decisions. KBJ’s daughter is also currently an undergrad student at the school. So sure, in isolation, it makes sense for people to think that KBJ has some conflicts of interest. But three other sitting justices have Harvard ties to Chief Justice John Roberts has his own Harvard undergrad and law degrees. Elena Kagan is the former dean of Harvard Law, and like I said, Brett Kavanaugh, who loves beer used to teach there. Some analysts say that KBJ’s board tenure is the main conflict of interest, which is why just being an alum of Harvard didn’t disqualify her. As you can see, there are three other Harvard affiliated justices still good to go on the case.

V Spehar  12:11

But others aren’t as convinced and is naturally leading many people to wonder why others haven’t recused themselves in similar situations. Like Clarence Thomas, Clarence Thomas hasn’t recused himself from anything and his wife Ginni played a role in the January 6 insurrection. Did you guys know that? I’m sure you did. There are records of her sending encouraging texts to Mark Meadows, who was the White House Chief of Staff at the time, she wanted the election overturned, yet Clarence didn’t recuse himself from any of those relevant matters. There was even a Supreme Court decision about whether Trump’s White House records should be turned over to the January 6 committee. I bet you can guess who was the one dissenting Justice, Clarence Thomas, whose wife’s texts are included in those documents. This is a conflict of interest if I have ever seen one friends. At the end of the day, though, recusing is voluntary, and the discrepancy of who refuses and when probably has a lot to do with a whole lot of things. So let’s just look at the situation currently playing out for KBJ. First, her decision to abstain from the Harvard case wasn’t entirely her own. She agreed to recuse herself during her confirmation hearings because Senator Ted Cruz straight up asked her if she would. Plus, since she’s a brand new justice, some experts are thinking that she’s trying to just keep a low profile and not ruffle any feathers in her first couple of months. KBJ also faces the added pressure of being a black woman. Critics maintain that her racial and gender identity make her too biased to hear a case about protecting identities like hers, so gross, and spoiler alert, everyone is biased in so many ways. It doesn’t mean that they can’t make good and thoughtful and fair decisions on something at any rate. KBJ has seated her right to vote in the Harvard case. But she did get to hear the North Carolina one either way. Court watchers say that based on the arguments; they expect that the majority conservative Supreme Court will vote to end affirmative action at colleges. Moving down the list of checks and balances. Let’s say the Supreme Court continues to be wonky. Well, who’s responsible then? Well, that’s journalists, the media, the fourth estate, the watchdog of democracy, and if recent moves are any indication, they are in danger. Okay, we might be out of the Trump era where the commander in chief himself insulted news publications and villainize the reporters. But it doesn’t mean that we are totally out of the woods. I mean, y’all are familiar with Ron DeSantis, right? The governor of Florida. Well, he is very familiar with hating on the media. One of his popular claims was that the media outlets were the ones trying to cause hysteria around COVID-19 and it In recent weeks, he’s claimed that reporters were rooting for hurricane Ian to hit certain areas in Florida. It is hard for journalists out there. Journalists are also seeing big changes on a very important platform of theirs. Twitter. Elon Musk recently purchased the site. And critics say this poses several big problems. The major problem is misinformation. Elon is one of many public figures who oppose the idea of censorship. These folks want to do what they want when they want say what they want about it.

V Spehar  15:29

Elon is loose vision for Twitter is one that permits any and all information to flow, even if it’s not true, because free speech. In fact, the Legal Policy Trust and Safety lead was one of Elon first fires, yes, fires with an F knock hires he is not making this better. She had been overseeing efforts to combat misinformation and disinformation on Twitter, and he fired her with more quote free speech also comes less protection from hate speech. Online harassment and threats are particularly a problem for women and people of color. mere hours after Elon bought Twitter, there were already surges of hate speech being reported. This was no coincidence. In one breath, many tweets celebrated the transfer of power and the loosening of restrictions. They dropped a lot of slurs in the process. Another danger is how Elon is proposing to make money off the site. He has proposed charging users to keep their account verification, which comes in the form of that coveted blue checkmark. Now getting verified on TikTok or Instagram often involves you like having a certain amount of press coverage. Being Instagram or TikTok. Famous it wasn’t really that way for Twitter. The status was originally on Twitter for publicly relevant accounts, super celebrities and journalists who actually have an email that’s tied to like a legacy media publication like real, real journalists. It was a way to prove that public figures are who they say they are, so that followers could trust what they tweeted. By moving that all behind a paywall. It becomes a marker of prestige only and not so much of who you can trust. There’s a lot of potential for journalists to feel very disrespected or unsafe on Twitter, and many will leave a lot of people already have. In response to all this. The organization Reporters Without Borders has written an open letter to Elon. It urges him to be super careful about what he does to the site because it could serve a major blow to journalism. And we know how important journalism is to holding people accountable. The Washington Post slogan democracy dies in darkness isn’t there for no reason, my friends, it is not a coincidence that in parts of the world where leaders rule with a heavy hand, reporters and writers are seen as a threat. Even though it’s their job to tell the truth. Elon has wasted no time in establishing himself as a partisan meme king, he attacked AOC and the crying liberals. On a second day on the job Elon tweeted an unfounded conspiracy theory about Paul Pelosi his attacker being his leftist gay lover.

V Spehar  18:04

Elon deleted the tweet a few hours later, but by that point, it had hundreds of 1000s of engagement points as the sole owner backed by venture capital, including a huge investment from the Saudi Arabian Prince, Elon is cause for concern. Senator Chris Murphy recently called for an immediate investigation into the national security implications of Saudi Arabia’s stake in Twitter. Murphy said quote, setting aside the vast stores of data that Twitter has collected on American citizens, any potential that Twitter’s foreign ownership will result in increased censorship, misinformation or political violence is a grave national security concern. Now I’m curious to know if you guys are staying on Twitter, what do you think? Are you going to stick around? Please leave us a voicemail, we’re going to do a follow up story on this in a few weeks, the number is 612-293-8550. Let me know what you think about Twitter. So what happens when an if we lose access to the digital Town Square say in the case of war, or political unrest or protest? What is happening in Iran is very possible here in the United States if we do not protect democracy and reject autocracy. In Iran, one of the first things they did to control the people’s ability to communicate was to cut the internet because they already controlled the news. It is only thanks to brave reporters and citizen journalists sharing stories while risking actual death and imprisonment, that the protests following the death of Messiah Amenia have played out at all on the global stage. After the break, we’re going to talk a lot more about these happenings with the help of fake the nation host and comedian Negin facade. She is an Iranian American and has a lot to share about what we can be thinking about and how we can be helping the ongoing protests in Iran and that includes not repeating the mistakes the United It has made in the past, we’re gonna have all that and more right after this.

V Spehar  20:20

Okay friends, I am joined today by one of my favorite political comedians podcasters general people on this earth, Miss Negin Farsad. Hello, welcome to the show.

Negin Farsad  20:30

Oh my god, Hi, I’m so excited to be here.

V Spehar  20:34

There are so many people now who are seeing what’s going on in Iran. And, you know, trying to get just a handle of what culture is like now what the history of the country was like. And I know, you would say your family would go back and visit when you were young. What was the experience? Like, let’s say in the 80s and 90s. For Iran?

Negin Farsad  20:53

Yeah, I mean, actually just wrote about this recently for a foreign magazine. And it was an interesting exercise in kind of going back and remembering these little moments like I, you know, ever since I was little, we would go to Iran, and it was an Islamic Republic, or you didn’t know it as anything else. And so part of it was almost really like, normal. It’s just like, oh, yeah, like when we go to Iran, and on the plane, my mom puts this thing on her head, and then in a jacket, and then that’s how we leave the plane, you know, or we don’t travel with like, lots of magazines, and CDs, and whatever, because those are illegal and Iran, like, all these little things that you sort of, you know, you just kind of learned by doing it or whatever. And it didn’t even occur to me that it was like that weird or that, you know, as a child I didn’t like really understand very much about I just that I knew that these were the different little processes that we went through. And I think, once I also had to wear the hijab, so you when you turn nine, and I think, I can’t remember exactly the first trip we did, after I turned nine, and maybe was 10 or 11. I had to wear the hijab for the first time. And you know, and I just remember being like, really irritated, you know, so up until then, my association with Iran was just like, it was super fun. I played with my cousins, like, I had a gajillion cousins, nearly my entire family extended family is there. And we there would be tons of parties, by the way parties illegal, especially if you’re mixing genders. But there’s all these ways that you get around things. Like when you become an adult, and you look back on your time in Iran, you sort of realize that like, oh my God, these people just figured out hacks all the time, either it was like they were bribing morality, police that wood there, were there beat cops on the street, to like, hey, we’re gonna have a party don’t say anything, here’s 50 bucks, or they would make bathtub gin, they would, you know, get they would have black market beer, like there was all of these ways of like living the life. And I think what’s really important, oddly important for me, for people to understand is, these people are not living a life because they were in living under oppressive circumstances, you know, they lived wonderful lives, despite their oppressive circumstances that were deeply oppressive. And I think part of the thing was in the 80s, and 90s. And 2000s, I mean, for the last 40 years, is that there would be times where the regime would crack down, and there would be a time that the regime would loosen, and it kind of just depended on what was going on. And there were times you know, we were in an unlucky situation, that after the revolution of 1979, there was an Iran Iraq War and many ways that cemented the regime, because what people had to do was rally around their government because there was the threat of outside invaders. And that basically kind of cemented a government that so very many people were unhappy with, you know, because you sort of wonder, like, How could anyone let this happen? Well, thrown invasion in the mix. And you’ll see how quickly people can let this happen. You know?

V Spehar  24:10

What do you wish people knew about Iran? Now they’re looking for information, they’re having a hard time placing, like you said that people are living full lives outside of the morality, police threat or outside of the government. And they just can’t imagine that what they’re hearing on TikTok, or what they’re seeing in the news is happening, that they’re detaining students that they’re actually killing people in the streets like, what do you want people to know about this moment in Iran?

Negin Farsad  24:39

Yeah, I mean, I think that and I’ve said this a lot like my run ins with the morality police were so cute, but just to give you an example of how it affects your daily life, I remember getting stopped because it was wearing very fashionable sunglasses, and you know, not to brag I’m very good at accessorizing And I was stopped for the fashionable sunglasses and they told me to take them off or whatever. And I did and I apologized or something. And you know, and of course, it’s scary because they’re carrying AK 47, you’re getting stopped. You know what I mean? It’s very scary. And I was like, I think 13 or something the first time I was stopped. And I think that’s the kind of way that the regime X operates on a daily basis. That’s how it controls your body. And part of the reason they always they asked, my mom wants to take off her sunglasses, and I was like, what is it deal with sunglasses? Like the sun happens, like we got to deal with it.

V Spehar  25:37

Liberty, sunglasses. Fashionable? What do you mean? Did they say like?

Negin Farsad  25:44

They were western sunglasses. That’s part of it. But the other part of it is that they were afraid that women were wearing makeup and hiding makeup. That was the thing that I didn’t understand at the time. And so that’s the other thing. Like if you think it to the level at which they’re, they’re controlling women’s bodies, like that’s the level, you know, they don’t want you to wear makeup, they don’t want you to do this, they don’t want you to do that. But again, these are like it depended on whether or not there was a crack. And so sometimes I would go and my headscarf would be just like practically at my eyebrows, because I’d be so afraid of like one piece of hair peeping out. Other times I would go and everyone would have their headscarf, like back by their ponytail. And I’d be like, oh, I guess we’re not really doing it so hard this time. And it was all about little releases and little and little crackdowns. And I think part of what’s crazy and infuriating about living in a system like that, is that you kind of don’t know, what is the instability of it, you don’t know what you’re gonna get. Also, you don’t know if you’re gonna get a nice kind morality, police person or a mean one. And so, yeah, I mean, I think it’s like, it’s like some kind of psychological warfare all the time. And so you know, I’ve also had family members that, like, were detained and lashed. I have family members who, you know, I have a family member who went on a date. And they got, they were stopped, and they were put into separate questioning rooms. They were latched on the back, right. And so that kind of thing. That definitely happens, like it’s not every day, right? But it’s like, that kind of thing happens. And so you will have some, you know, you can go like on 400 dates, and it won’t happen, but then on one of them, you know, so I think that’s the other thing is always flirting with that level of corporal punishment is very scary, all of this to say. That’s why what the women in Iran are doing right now is so incredible, because we know historically what lengths they’re willing to go to, to put down these protests. And they did it in 2009, which was another significant movement called the Green Movement. And at that time, it seemed like things could really change hundreds of 1000s of people on the street. But then again, they were able to like put that down. And I think part of the reason it failed in 2009, is because the protesters lost the interest of the international interest. And when we stop paying attention, they have less. You know, they just have less support. It really matters whether or not Americans care or don’t care about what’s happening in Iran on the ground.

V Spehar  28:52

And it’s something that I’ve seen on TikTok so much that Gen Z really does for being accused of having a lack of attention span. They have quite a strong one when it’s seemingly comes to the Iranian protests, where they are trying to get messages through about queer people who are being put to death they’re trying to get messages through to make people understand that Mahsa Amini didn’t just decide wake up one day and decide she was going to wear her hijab. It just wasn’t on proper light enough. And that’s crazy, right? Like that’s too much and the way that they actually are shooting at students. And what length do you think like, when would it stop for them? It doesn’t stop.

Negin Farsad  29:31

I mean, this is the like, billion dollar question. I don’t because there’s been there’s been sanctions upon sanctions. It’s you know, they’re they’ve had just a dreadful economy. They’ve been through so much, you know, unbelievable economic hardship, forgetting just the cultural and political suppression economically they haven’t been able to do it. This is a resource rich country with some of the highest rates of degree attainment anywhere in the Middle East. These people are not, this is not an unskilled workforce. And so it’s remarkable under the right leadership under the right kind of like, open and transparent government. This could be a paradise in the Middle East. And, and it isn’t. Because of the unbelievably brutal links, these people will go, and I’m not sure how it makes sense to anyone. I mean, just I have no idea how long can they make this go? And then I’m like, you know, on the side of the protesters, if they stop, which, who could blame them? Because it’s literally death is the result, death is the result. So who could blame them for stopping? It’s just an it feel, it’s an impossible thing to ask of someone.

V Spehar  31:01

Because those days are passing here. It seems like Oh, it feels like the Mahsa Amini killing was just a couple of days ago. But it wasn’t it was it was a substantial amount of time. And these people have been protesting 24 hours a day since then. And we’ve seen, you know, attempts from the hackers, there was the I forget what they were calling themselves. They were working with Anonymous to hack the system, and they were gonna give away the nuclear codes. And they want to see people lead out of the prison where they’re holding political prisoners. None of this seems to be working. And to your point, like the invasion of Ukraine, if you’re going to destroy the entire country, what are you going to have left? When it’s over? Like, where does this become unreasonable? I wanted to get your take on the idea of these punishments coming from outside organizations like the United States just sanctioned Iran all over again, for giving weapons to Russia in the Ukrainian situation, that is going to hurt the Iranian people, like where do we draw the line on that with the hacking of the nuclear codes? Is that going to help? Is that going to hurt? Like, where can we be influential and actually helpful? And where, are we may be getting it wrong?

Negin Farsad  32:10

Yeah, I mean, I think that’s such a great question. Because the problem is, you know, in 1953, the United States basically engineered the overthrow of the popularly elected president Mossad. And that was something that, you know, again, gave us the Shahs regime, which was incredibly repressive. And that was America’s doing so in this situation, Western countries have to tread lightly, because they’ve already done too much in manipulating the state of affairs in Iran. And they’ve done it. I mean, I, you know, everyone does this exercise every Iranian does this exercise of like, imagine if […] had been assassinated? He haven’t had been tossed out like, imagine if he could still, he would have just been the leader, and then we would have had elections, and then there would have been other ones like, imagine if Iran just could have been the democracy that it wanted to be. And, and he was trying to nationalize the oil. And he was trying to, you know, make it share the profits with people. And that’s, you know, that was a point in time where, like, the US really fucked up the situation. And so, I think that it’s really difficult to say, how governments should operate. I mean, you know, we pause the JCPOA, the Iran nuclear deal. negotiations. And I think that totally makes sense. We shouldn’t be negotiating with a country that will like murder its own citizens. That said, when Obama was doing it, I at that time, when it seemed like there was a reformist mindset, I thought it was great. You know, I was very public about thinking the JCPOA was great, because it seemed like the regime was going to inch towards openness. And obviously, like the, you know, this moment in time, it feels like that. Not at all the case. I guess my answer to your question is just like, I don’t know. Yeah, I understand the sanctions, because also it how incredibly mind fucky is it that there’s also this war in Ukraine that plays into this situation? I mean, like, what an international mess. But yeah, I don’t think that the Iranians should be giving, you know, weapons to the Russians to then continue this war of Ukraine that it was due, we shouldn’t have happened in first. Like, I understand that. There’s so many reasonable parts of that, that I understand. But also like, I don’t know.

V Spehar  35:13

Speaking about, you know, y’all being like, what would it have been like if we were able to continue with the vision of democracy that we had and trusting our elections and even if progress was slow, it was yours to own as a culture without interference. And there’s so many people concerned that at the end of today, when the results come out, that we will be in a less democratic place overall, as well. I mean, every seat in Congress is up for grabs. So many senators ship so many governorships What is your sort of feeling, having the background that you do about the way that America is handling their elections and their democracy?

Negin Farsad  35:53

I want to say it’s interesting because like, this is when I’m like, hey, everybody talked to old people. Because when you do, they’re sort of like, things come they go, You know what I mean? You gotta fight. And, you know, I remember talking to, you know, this incredible artist, who was around in the 60s, and she was around before Roe v. Wade, and she was remembered the marches and the protests and the fights. And she’s like, Yeah, we had to fight then. And then we got the thing and things were like, more open and better and, okay, so now they’re closing up again. So then we have to fight the thing again, and then we got it, you know what I mean? And she’s like, it’s cyclical, which isn’t to say, you shouldn’t be concerned, or you shouldn’t fight really hard. But just like, don’t, I just in general, don’t view the result of any one election as a like, Oh, my God, it’s over. That’s not how I how I, I personally view things. And even in the lame duck session, it looks like Congress is going to be putting forth a bill that has bipartisan support, to kind of manage some of the things that went wrong with 2020. And making sure that the Vice Presidents role is merely ceremonial, like ensuring that stuff that that happened in 2020 at the presidential election level, like won’t happen again. So you also have to take little wins. I think sometimes, like, I’m a liberal, like, of whatever surprise, surprise. And I sometimes feel like my friends who are also liberal, like don’t just accept the wins, you know what I mean? Like, except the when Kansas happened, guess what? They didn’t let an abortion rights be taken away from them by referendum? Cool. Can we be happy for like five and a half seconds? It’s okay. Like, be happy. It’s okay. And also, I think, like, we’ve just gotten so reactionary, like the reaction is almost always negative, even when something is good. I had a crazy conversation with someone about Georgia get I don’t know what’s gonna happen in Georgia. Like, we might lose Georgia, guys. I don’t know. I don’t know. But I was having a crazy conversation. Like, it’s, it’s impossible, that Raphael Warnock will win, I can’t see how it’s remotely possible that that’s going to happen. I was like, not to burst the bubble of your theory here. But he literally did win in 2020. So it is not impossible, right? Like we have done it. And so I feel like, gosh, I would love for everyone to be reasonable.

V Spehar  38:35

I know, celebrate the wins, it is so it’s something that I’ve started doing with the TIC tock content too, because I feel like oftentimes, we’re up against the mainstream media in so many ways who are like, well, the polls say it’s already over. Yeah, like shut up. Stop saying that. You’re like, are you trying to sabotage this election? I think sometimes, you know, it’s human nature to kind of like make fun of yourself before someone else makes fun of you, or like, get to the insult before somebody makes fun of you. I’m like, stop giving up. We’re not even halfway there. And the polls can’t predict for new voters, they can’t predict for Gen Z. So it’s like just let people get out there and vote for who they believe in. And let’s see how it goes. I agree.

Negin Farsad  39:11

I also want to say like I also think people need to go back to their local community it’s not I think we’re so obsessed with national politics that we forget what’s happening at our local park and one of the things that I’ve done recently is like I’ve been I’m one of the founding you know, members of this friends of group for my the park in my neighborhood and, and I love it, I mean, I It’s it look, it’s not like glamorous work, but I’m now I’ve now encountered like dozens of other people who love the park as much as I do, who use a park as much as I do. This is a piece this is 10 acres of land that we can have an impact on. And that matters as much right if people treated their communities with a kind of love and care, because it’s not all about this kind of horse race. Like, I’m right, you’re wrong politics, it is when you get down to it, and this is the policy person and me speaking, right, who like literally, my focus in school was on urban management. And literally just like these benches need repair, like, well, how are we going to do it, you know, so, at the end of the day, those are the things that you see every day, and those are the people you live around. So go befriend them. And I think that’s a piece of the of the puzzle that we’ve been missing. And social media has made it so easy for us to like, ignore all of our neighbors. And that’s exactly the wrong direction, the right direction is meet your neighbors, talk to strangers. And that’s, I think, gonna fill the gap the gap has been, we haven’t been talking to each other. So let’s get into that and start by doing it with community projects that you care about it. Cuz by the way, it can be fun. I hate to say this.

V Spehar  41:09

I wanted to ask you before we before we hop out of here, we’re coming up on the 10 year anniversary of the Muslims are coming. And I wanted to just say like, since you did that project, how have you seen advocacy change since then?

Negin Farsad  41:22

It’s interesting, I think, oddly, like Trump really helped with some coalition building around some of this stuff. Because when the Muslim ban happened in 2016, and 2017. He was cheered he talked about on the campaign trail in 2016. A lot of people were like, Guys, that sounds crazy. And so when you have people going to JFK, and you have people on  the ground, protesting it, there were people from other communities joining in it wasn’t just Muslims. And I think that community building, coalition building, I think became a little bit more salient. Because the policies were so crazy, and so obviously terrible that other communities are like, you know, if they’re coming from the Muslims, or we’re an x, so we better all get in on this. And so I feel like that’s been an interesting change. I think the other interesting change is like, Muslims were demonized for very many years, especially after 9/11. And they kind of got top billing, not to brag in terms of like, who was demonized, but now I feel like Muslims share that billing with so many other groups. I think the odd thing that’s happened with the with the rise of that kind of xenophobic and bigoted, right wing politics, is that they’re like, no, no, we have the energy not only to hate Muslims, but to hate trans people and to hate every type of refugee and migrant to hate you know, so it’s like.

V Spehar  42:55

People that are made up even, people who identify as cats that is […]

Negin Farsad  43:03

Exactly. So because it’s like I thought in 2014, like, Oh, my God, their appetite for like hating muscles was so big, I had no idea like it could grow their appetite could grow from there. And so in that sense, it’s, you know, it’s gotten a little bit worse, but, again, more fun, because it created these coalition’s that we didn’t necessarily have before. So I think, hey, Silver Lining.

V Spehar  43:28

Silver lining indeed. Is there anything else that we should know about how to be a good citizen and how to maybe even help support Iranian women right now? I can’t necessarily send mutual aid to Iran, but like, here in America.

Negin Farsad  43:45

I mean, that’s, it’s funny, because I feel like that, that question changes every day. But for right now, I think like, one of the things that they really consistently asked for, is to post about it to talk about it just to keep it up in people’s minds. Because it really you know, if you look at what happened in 2009, the second that the international community you know, press stopped covering it that’s when things really that’s when the government was able to really go on their murderous rampage and shut it down you know, and so be keeping the lights on the international lights on what’s going what’s happening in Iran, I think is really important and tempers the government’s worst tendencies to kill. And yeah, I that’s one of the big ways that you as a regular person could support Iranian women.

V Spehar  44:41

Thank you Negin, it is always so great to chat with you. I’m sorry we didn’t get our cool off the ground this time either. Maybe next time. Where can people find you?

Negin Farsad  44:51

Oh my gosh, you can find me on you know all of the social medias at @NeginFarsad a name that is both easy to pronounce and spell and you can subscribe to my show fake the nation and fake the nation is just a weekly pot and it would with people wonderful people like V on the show and so join us we have insightful but also dumb conversations that I’m proud of. And also you can you know you can hear me regularly on Wait Don’t tell Me and I also am really proud of a show that just came out called gutsy. That’s Hillary Clinton and Chelsea Clinton’s new show on Apple TV and I’m in episode two, but all the episodes are so great. So, so check out the show. Gutsy on Apple TV.

V Spehar  45:39

I will be binging the show gutsy. I love everything about what just the future holds for that binge. That’s gonna be a good one. Make your popcorn.

Negin Farsad  45:50

Oh, my God. Yes.

V Spehar  45:54

Again, great chatting with you. Thank you again for being here.

Negin Farsad  45:56

Thanks so much for having me.

V Spehar  46:02

All right, well, I’m gonna have to get Apple TV and break up my pantsuit so that I can check out Negin and Gutsy with Hillary and Chelsea Clinton or maybe I’ll just wait till I’m on a plane again. I’m pretty sure American Airlines has apple tv, life hack. Be sure to tune into this Friday’s episode where we will be meeting some more interesting people to tell you some more cool stuff. Don’t forget to leave me a voicemail. Tell me your feelings about Twitter at 612-293-8550. You can follow me at under the desk news on TikTok and Instagram. And be sure to check out some of the interesting extras by subscribing to Lemonada Premium only on Apple podcasts. Thank you and I will see you on Friday.

CREDITS  46:47

V INTERESTING is a Lemonada Media Original. Our producers are Rachel Neel, Xorje Olivares, Martín Macías, Jr. And Dani Matias. Executive Producers are Stephanie Wittels Wachs and Jessica Cordova Kramer. Mixing and Scoring is by Brian Castillo, Johnny Evans and Ivan Kuraev. music is by Seth Applebaum. Please help others find the show by rating and reviewing wherever you listen and follow us across all social platforms at @VitusSpehar and @UnderTheDeskNews, also, @LemonadaMedia. If you want more be interesting, subscribe to Lemonada premium only on Apple podcasts.

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